This is an interesting topic because each society must decide what its priorities are in order to live full and happy lives. People must determine what personal or individual sacrifices must be made in order to achieve happiness and peace. Many ask if it is worth giving up personal freedoms in order to secure a peaceful society. For example, must a person be asked to give up rights to privacy in order to secure a safe and peaceful environment for everyone as a whole? In Lois Lowry's The Giver, the society in which Jonas lives decided to give up many personal freedoms in order to achieve a happy, peaceful, and secure lifestyle.
Advantages - First, Jonas is able to live within a strong, respectful, and educated family unit. This gives a child the senses of security, stability, and peace in order to learn and grow to become a productive member of society. Secondly, along with the beautiful weather he enjoys everyday, there is no violence or crime. For instance, he can go outside his home every day and not worry about being kidnapped or mugged. Finally, he does not have to worry about money, food, or healthcare because it is all provided by the community.
The Giver explains one trade off between giving up experiences like snow sledding for the greater good when Jonas asks why there's no snow:
"Climate Control. Snow made growing food difficult, limited the agricultural periods. And unpredictable weather made transportation almost impossible at times. It wasn't a practical thing, so it became obsolete when we went to Sameness" (83-84).
Through this law of Sameness, as far as the weather is concerned, they were able to people eliminate world hunger by extending and controlling the growing seasons.
Disadvantages - In order to enjoy all of the advantages mentioned above, however, the people of this society gave up personal freedoms such as choosing one's life-long profession, partner, and family. Further, because of the law of "Sameness," the people live without color, personal preferences, the ability to accomplish one's own dreams, and historical memories. Living without personal experiences and memories, though, prohibits people from understanding the highs and lows of humanity. Without difficult trials and pain, for example, people cannot show true sympathy or empathy. People who do not understand deep pain cannot contemplate the difference between right and wrong; nor do they value human life as deeply. This makes it easier for people like Jonas's dad do inhuman things, like killing babies, without blinking an eye.
"To his surprise, his father began very carefully to direct the needle into the top of newchild's forehead, puncturing the place where the fragile skin pulsed. The newborn squirmed, and wailed faintly. . .
He killed it! My father killed it! Jonas said to himself, stunned at what he was realizing. He continued to stare at the screen. . .
The Giver turned to him. 'Well, there you are, Jonas. You were wondering about release,' he said in a bitter voice" (149-151).
The society calls death being Released. This is another downside to the community--whoever doesn't fit their ideal picture of a human is "released".