the ones who walked away from omelas

Topics: Ursula K. Le Guin, Question, Reason Pages: 1 (380 words) Published: February 3, 2014
A background - this is what the brilliant Ursula K. Le Guin brings up in her very short 1973 story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. It just a few pages she asks us to conceive of a utopia, a place where everyone enjoys happiness, the lovely place. But for reasons unspecified, the happiness of all others depends on the suffering of a small child confined in the dark, unloved, malnourished and dirty with its own feces. And everyone knows, and comes to accept. Except for a few who, against all the reason, think of the child and decide to walk away from Omelas into the unknown; walk away from the happiness of many built on the suffering of one. "The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas." So what the question boils down to - does the benefit of many outweigh the suffering of few? You think you have your answer ready? Is it a resounding NO! coming from the bottom of your outraged heart? I hope it is. And, at the same time, I hope it is not. Because nothing is as simple as that. Yes, what I'm trying to say is that even if we think there's only one answer to that, we are contradicting ourselves. Because we have not only made choices that contradict our outraged and heartfelt and very human 'NO!' - but we have often flaunted them so very proudly.

Think more about that - isn't the majority's benefit trumping whatever else minority may think the cornerstone of our favorite and concept of such a long time now - that precious and treasured democracy that is so often presented as the ultimate goal of human societal structure. Which, unlike what so many high school students are taught, is not the power of the people. It is the power of majority, their needs and wishes, to trump the wishes and needs of minority by the power of vote. Because we have known and accepted...
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