Love. Hate. Success. Failure. Talents. Handicaps. Burdens. Color. Music. Differences. They are the fabric of our lives.
Imagine a world where it is all turned off, suppressed in a manufactured semblance of order. There is no "I love you." There is no "be not afraid." There is no choice. There is no uncertainty. There are no questions. There are only prescriptions and the eradication of weakness and pain.
You can see how this world might be tempting.
After all, "People are weak."
"When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong every single time."
These are the declarations of Meryl Streep's character in the new movie "The Giver," based on the best-selling children's book by Lois Lowry.
"The Giver," which enters wide release Aug. 15, begins without color, because the world of the film is one without color. It's a world of people who don't know the possibilities of humanity. Climate control keeps a child from the joys of snow and sledding. Babies are engineered, born to surrogates and assigned to families. Love is an antiquated word with no meaning to anyone anymore.
There are unmistakable messages in "The Giver" about danger: The perils of surrendering freedom, of believing that government exists to perfect us, of expecting life can be lived fully without risk, pain and suffering.
"The Giver" shows the glorious strength that can build in a person when he or she knows the love of a family. We see the soul made wretched from a society where the relationship between a mother and child is severed. When the strong no longer protect the weak, and freedom, dignity and responsibility give way to false idols of comfort and security, a societal numbness sets in and spreads like a cancer. We hide behind screens and miss the joys of life.
As one character is being prepared for her "release" -- this is a society that eliminates the child who doesn't turn out as ordered, the elderly, and the troublesome -- she gives stirring testimony: "I know there is something more." Something is missing, she says. Something has been stolen.
Stolen from the world of "The Giver" are love and beauty and authenticity.
"The Giver" has the power to keep us honest. About who we are and want to be. It's about faith, family, hope and love. It's about treasuring life and relishing our unique gifts and quirks and challenges.
If love is our purpose and destiny, "The Giver" leaves us wanting nothing less. A movie cannot free us from fear, but it can take us out of ourselves and our maelstrom of overstimulation and show us how we can change the world. Cherishing the gifts we have been given, seeing them as they are, having faith in something more, sharing in thanksgiving, this is the life "The Gift" celebrates. May we never let ourselves be robbed of its message.
Kathryn Lopez is the editor-at-large of National Review Online www.nationalreview.com.