What are some benefits and costs of one of the community's values in The Giver?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the major values of the community in The Giver is that people are not to make decisions for themselves.  The community controls their lives in most important ways.  They do not get to decide what their careers will be. They do not get to decide whether they will have children.  Important life decisions like these are made for them.

It is easy to think of why this would be a bad thing.  If someone else is controlling your life, it is almost as if you are not fully human.  One of the major reasons that many teens cannot wait to get away from home is because they want to be free to run their own lives.  We often hear of adults who long to “be their own boss.”  We humans want to control our lives.  Living in a community that does not allow this costs us some of our humanity.

However, there really are some good aspects to this value. Most importantly, we are free from the weight of having to make decisions that can change our lives. The need to make decisions puts enormous pressure on us.  If I have to decide what I will do with my life, I have to make a decision where a mistake on my part can end up making me miserable for much of my life. If someone else makes the decisions for me, I can just enjoy my life.  While teens wish to become adults, adults often wish for the carefree days of their youth when they did not have to make important decisions.

The community in The Giver has a value that says that people do not make their own decisions. This would be bad because it robs people of their humanity and their self-determination, but it would be good because it would make their lives less stressful.

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