Life Before Sameness

April 22, 2012
By Adi12345 PLATINUM, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey
Adi12345 PLATINUM, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey
36 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Dear Grandson,

I am, as you certainly know, your grandfather, and I am leaving you this letter as a memory of the past. What happened in the past that was so special, you may ask. This may be a shocker, but life wasn’t always Sameness. In fact, there was a time when people didn’t even know what Sameness was! Nevertheless, there came a time when society decided to transition out of that lifestyle and into Sameness for numerous reasons. I am proud to say that I was alive during this historic moment.

I must admit that so much has changed after our society transitioned into a life of Sameness. For one thing, we no longer have individual independence; we have no choice, uniqueness, or opportunity to voice opinion. Although there is nothing that physically or mentally harms us, we still are forced to do what the leaders of our society say for nearly everything. We are forbidden, and we lose the interest, to do as we please, as it was in the old days. There was a time when where although there were rules, you were open to much more choice. For instance, you are forced to wear the same shirt and same pant every day. Back in the old days, however, you were allowed to purchase as many shirts as you want (purchase means to give cash, which is a special piece of paper or metal you earn for doing a job, in return for other things such as clothes and food). Then, you could select what shirt, or clothes you wanted to wear each day. In fact, you were even allowed to change your clothes ten times a day, if you wanted to! All these choices define who you are, and make you different from the person next to you. In other words, in a society of Sameness, you lose much of your uniqueness. Although you may look different from the person next to you, you all are given either a stuffed animal or a bicycle, depending on your age group, and everyone is satisfied with it. Everyone wants to fit in to the society, and everyone wants to apologize whether or not it really matters, or they will be released. I am not trying to criticize you or the system of Sameness, as there are benefits. However, there is no denying that everyone is practically same, and that uniqueness has been lost. Recently, as part of a daily ritual, I was expected to share my feelings with my assigned family. On the given day, “[I]would’ve almost preferred to keep [my] feelings hidden. But it was, of course, against the rules” (Lowry 9). I easily could’ve made up what I was feeling, as I almost preferred to keep my feelings hidden. Nevertheless, the rules of the community and Sameness had broken through too far into my individuality and uniqueness. Thus, I simply blurted out what was expected of me, rather than what I wanted; rules overpowered uniqueness. Ultimately, when I say that the transition to Sameness has resulted in the loss of individual independence, I mean that there is no more allowance and tolerance of voicing opinion. What does this mean? I will give you an example. In your own life, sometimes, you are expected to apologize frequently, such as if you use a wrong word in your sentence, even if it doesn’t make a difference. Why do it? Why apologize for something you didn’t really do wrong? Let’s assume someone slams a door in your face, causing you pain. No doubt, they will be expected to apologize. However, you are expected to accept their apology; is “I apologize” really enough to take away the pain and inconvenience they caused? Before Sameness, you were allowed to argue with the leaders of the society that they wouldn’t apologize for petty reasons, or accept a petty apology for major damage and inconvenience. After Sameness, however, everyone does it, regardless of the situation, without second thoughts.

The society you live in expects conformity. Basically, this means that society wants you to live up to all its rules and expectations, and fit in with everyone else. Conformity ensures an ideal community where you know what to expect, so there is a reasonable amount of control over the people of the community, as well as the future. In a world of Sameness, this is vital, because your leaders want a perfect world. If you can’t predict what is going to happen tomorrow, then there is no Sameness; every day will be different. Why does society want conformity, and in our society, conformity to Sameness? The answer is to avoid conflict. For instance, society got rid of terrain. Long ago, the road you bike or walk on wasn’t completely flat. There were curves, hills (huge bumps), mountains (bumps bigger than hills!), and much more. However, they caused difficulty in moving around from place to place (imagine having to ride up a mountain on your bike), and because of terrain, people were tardy for their jobs. Conflict sometimes arose, meaning terrain wouldn’t help conform to a perfect world. Thus, society adapted to a world without terrain to further conform to Sameness, and prevent unnecessary conflict. We can also consider Weather Control. For you, now that you’re living in Sameness, every day is the same; there is nothing that comes from the sky, besides planes. Before, there was rain, which was droplets of water that fell from the sky, snow, which was frozen water that fell from the sky, and sunshine, which was rays of light and warmth that came from the sky. These are just a few types of weather. However, they caused conflict. People sometimes became sick because of the weather, and weather, like terrain, slowed people down. In order to conform to Sameness, weather was permanently removed, taking conflict along with it. I will give you one more example; animals. When you were younger, you were given a comfort object. As you know, “Many of the comfort objects were […] soft, stuffed, imaginary creatures. [Mine] had been called a bear” (Lowry 18). My sister had a comfort object called an elephants. There were also hippos, giraffes, and more. Did you know that at one time, these comfort objects were real? They were called animals, just as we are called humans. Once again, society wanted to conform to Sameness, meaning there could be no conflict. Animals roamed around, taking up space, and ate our food. Sometimes they even ate us! They were dangerous, and they also carried diseases, meaning if we got too close to them, we could become ill. All these examples prove one point. Society really wants conformity, and in our society, conformity to Sameness. Society will remove anything that threatens people from conforming to Sameness, so that conflict will be removed.

Conformity to Sameness has both positives and negatives. Thus far in your life, you have been seeing a perfect community where there could be nothing better. What you see may be partially correct, but there is undoubtedly more to life than what you see. Of course, conformity to Sameness has its benefits; there will no longer be discrimination. As of now, you can see shades; you can see if something is lighter or darker than something else. Before, people saw colors; this is something difficult to explain, but it’s seeing something beyond shades. There are many different colors; red, orange, brown, yellow, white, etc. People used to be made fun of for the colors of their skins, because their skin was darker than those around them. They were made fun of, considered inferior, attacked, and even forced to do the bidding of others! This is called discrimination. Life was horrible for these people, and every day brought only more pain. To prevent this from ever happening again, color was removed from society, and only shades could be seen. Similarly, religion was also removed. Religion is the belief that there is a being that is more powerful than everyone, known as god. It was believed that this being created the world and all of us. Cultures arose from religion; cultures are how people live, how they dress, what they eat, and what they do. However, different groups of people believed in different gods, also making their cultures different. This also caused discrimination, as some were determined to do anything to prove that their religion and culture was better than others. Thus, religion was also removed. When conforming to Sameness, even if there are differences, “no one mentioned such things; it was not a rule, but considered rude to call attention to things that were unsettling or different about individuals” (Lowry 20). Simply, it was a societal norm that everyone is expected to respect each other, regardless of differences. Thus, even the slightest rude gesture sparks an apology, destroying even the smallest roots of discrimination. This is one of the greatest advantages of conformity.
However, there is also a downside to conformity, as there is so much you lose. Feelings are the hugest of all things you lose. They not only define us as individuals, but our former ability to feel was what truly marked us as human beings, separate from animals, or other creatures. Remember when you had stirrings? Stirrings occur because you were starting to feel an emotion; love. I’m sure you thought it was a great feeling; it provided you with so much warmth in your heart, and gave you something to look forward to every day other than the monotonous life of Sameness. However, once you took the pill, the stirrings were controlled. Even though it is probably one of the greatest feelings to have, you will never love again, unless you risk release and stop taking the pills. That leads to another emotion; sincere regret. Sure, you may regret using a wrong word in a sentence, as precision of speech in your society is vital. However, do you know what Nurturers and Caretakers do? They release babies and the very old respectively. If you’ve been wondering what release really is, a Nurturer will “very carefully […] direct a needle into the top of [his/her] forehead, puncturing the place where the […] skin pulsed” (Lowry 148). [They] will “[push] the plunger, injecting the liquid into the [person’s] vein until the syringe [is] empty” (Lowry 149). The baby or old person will “move his [or her] arms in a jerking motion. Then [he or she will go] limp. [Their] head [will fall] to their side, […] eyes half open. Then [he or she will lay] still (Lowry 150). Basically they die, meaning that they will no longer exist. Do the Nurturers and Caretakers really regret this? No, they simply smile while they do this, and continue with life as normal. Would a true human do this? When learning this, I felt “a ripping sensation inside [myself], the feeling of terrible pain clawing its way forward to emerge in a cry” (Lowry 151). In other words, I felt regret. When regret was taken away, we lost our sense of humanity. It was our ability to really feel bad for our actions (especially when taking a life) that marked us as unique living beings. It really is a downside that we are no longer able to feel emotions, such as love and remorse. Nonetheless, this is conclusive evidence that conformity has both pros and cons.

I have not only left you a letter, but also a physical model of what I believe is the most vital component that was removed in the transition to Sameness; choice and individuality. In the model, there is a person with numerous clothes lined up on a shelf, each ready to be worn based on the person’s choice. There are posters he hung up in his room, chosen based on things he loved the most. His room is also decorated based on his choice and taste. You can no longer choose your clothes. For instance, For instance, all “Fours, Fives, and Sixes all wore jackets that fastened down the back” (Lowry 40). Sevens are designated with a “jacket with its row of large buttons” (Lowry 40). I leave this as a memory to you so that remember that although choice is something your society no longer has, it can continue to live on within you. You must always remember that even in a society where everything and everyone is same, you could still be special and different. Sometimes it may not matter; it may be as simple as going on a different path on the way school. Still, “it’s the choosing that’s important [find page]. The more choices you make, the more you live a true life, a life more fruitful than those around you. They define you, and as a human, individuality is vital so that you are recognized in society.
There is one last thing I want to explain to you before letting you get on with your day; the importance of memories. Memories provide you with wisdom from the past. As my friend put it, “Those who do no learn from the past are destined to repeat it.” Whether it is your own experiences and memory you are learning from, or whether it is the memory of someone else, memories are golden. If you recall on memories of mistakes or triumphs from the past, you can succeed by applying the memories to present situations. From sources in other societies, there have been incidents where success and has occurred because memories were recalled on. For instance, when I used to be Receiver of Memories, I was asked by the Council of Elders about what to do when an unknown plane swooped down on the village. “They were preparing to shoot it down. […] [But] I told them to wait. I used my wisdom, from the memories. I knew that there had been times in the past-terrible times-when people had destroyed others in haste, in fear, and had brought about their own destruction” (Lowry 112). Nevertheless, my decision turned out to be right. If we shot down the plane, people from Elsewhere could’ve possibly came and attacked the society to gain revenge. However, now, everyone continued to live their life normally. Thus, recalling upon memories to use for the future make them extremely valuable, and worth having.

The author's comments:
I wrote this piece about The Giver by Lois Lowry. I imagined what it would be like if I were writing to my grandson about life before Sameness, and how Sameness affects life.

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