“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” ― Mark Twain
“The Giver,” a book by Lois Lowry, is about an apparent utopian society that is actually dystopian. All citizens are treated equally. Children are all taught the same skills at the same time and their permanent job is determined when the children celebrate their twelfth birthday (on the same date). They have no memories of anything outside of their society; have never experienced color, music, fashion, disappointment, fear, or a war.
The term “release” is used throughout the text to describe euthanasia. This includes the joyful celebration when one of the elderly has a “release ceremony” to honor their life. Once the ceremony is complete, he/she walks into an adjacent room and is euthanized. When an infant is not meeting required benchmarks, a medical attendant gives him an injection and slides him through a hatch to his death. He shows no emotion and, indeed, treats this moment as just another part of his day, one more task to complete. In the first few pages the reader learns that a pilot who inappropriately flew over the community will be “released” for his behavior.
They have become complacent automatons who accept every word from their government without question. They have reached a point in their utopia in which the death of a person is treated with no emotion.
Why is it that the indiscriminate taking of a life is tolerable?
We could ask that same question about our own society.
Just as Lowry uses the term “release” to represent euthanizing a person, we use the palatable terms of ‘physician assisted suicide,’ ‘death with dignity,’ and ‘abortion.’ Just as in “The Giver,” we, too, have become desensitized to the act of intentionally taking a life.
When Freddie Gray died in Baltimore earlier this year, enraged locals violently protested the alleged police brutality and destroyed sections of the city. Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, MO sparked the same type of riots last year. We know that both of these men had been engaged in criminal acts shortly before their deaths, but that appears to have been irrelevant to the rioting mobs in both cities.
Meanwhile across America approximately 3000 very innocent and helpless lives are taken every day at the hands of abortionists. Where is the outrage over their deaths? Just recently state legislative bodies across our nation have begun considering the legalization of physician assisted suicide. This would make it acceptable to take the life of those with terminal illnesses.
Let’s summarize what we have thus far: it’s bad when criminals are inadvertently killed, but it’s okay to intentionally take the life of an innocent or terminally ill person.
Earlier this week our friends at the Patient’s Rights Action Fund in Maine were able to narrowly defeat legislation in the state senate that would legalize assisted suicide. Victories in these battles at the state level will prevent our country from going the way of the dystopian society in “The Giver.” If we are to continue to be the dynamic, gracious, loving, caring, feeling people that we are, we cannot allow ourselves to be desensitized to the evil of intentionally and needlessly taking a life.
The Truth may be stranger than Fiction, but we must work hard to keep our Truth from accepting atrocious possibilities.