The fear of pain leads to a joyless existence. Hmmm. I recently read a little literature named The Giver by Lois Lowry. If I attended a class on literature and needed to state one theme, well, there one is. Fear of pain leads to a joyless existence.
To eliminate pain the community in The Giver lives by loads of rules in a very controlled and contrived life. Love causes pain so families come together by committee instead of birth or romantic love. Death causes pain so the old do not die but instead get secretly killed off. Accidents cause pain so a multitude of rules govern every aspect of life. In the absence of love, death, and pain life is grey, false, cold, and deceptively harmonious.
As one who struggles with fear, seeing such a bleak portrayal of fear’s destination shook me. Things like escalators+children+crocs+developing nations=raw fear. Pools+polished granite+kids=terror. I see my daughter catching my fear like the contagious disease that it is and wonder if she will ever have much fun on an escalator again! I name myself “Joy Stealer!”
Be safe! As if I could do much to control most dangers. Be safe is the popular replacement for goodbye in America these days. My brother observed this for me. Be safe! Safety means avoiding pain. Avoiding pain means making rules. Making rules does take away some of the pain but it takes a free side of joy along with it. Good and bad go together on the path to eliminate pain. Grey is the color of safe.
Polished granite and water present real risks in this country I live in so I’m struggling through the difference between fear and appropriate caution. What does it look like to nurture a child well in a world of unavoidable pain? To raise a child and raise myself to take appropriate risks instead of play it grey? To not be controlled by my fear or control others with my fear? Fear and faith are incompatible.
The next theme I’m intrigued by in The Giver is sharing pain in community. Bearing the weight of the wait means bearing the pain too. And, the theme after that is the role of music and art in life. Bearing the weight of the wait means a strangely joyful existence is promised us Followers.
So, I’m being bossy now, read The Giver!