Upon reading Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”, I was not too sure as to how it would relate to diversity. At first the author describes an ideal place where everyone seems happy and the weather is perfect during a festival. The author also mentions that people are not naive and truly are joyous with little rules or laws. Happiness is described, as “a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive.” Readers are also invited to imagine their idea of utopia. However, I understand how this perfect society is reflected in current social issues surrounding inclusion. Later on in the story, the tone shifts and a basement is described in detail as dirty and dark.
Within the basement is a child. My major takeaway is that the child who is described as feeble-minded and malnourished is a metaphor for how we ignore issues of diversity and inclusions. All the people in Omelas have neglected this child and believe that if they allowed the child to leave the basement that the child would never know joy because he/or she is too dumb and would know how to respond. Their happiness depends on the child being miserable. Hence, there is no sense in releasing the child. Some people have seen the child and others have not, but everyone knows the child exists.
The inhabitants of Omelas feel upset or angry by the condition in which this child has been left in, but they never take action for fear of destroying their utopia. It is implied that in some cases children and adults are not truly free or happy if this child is imprisoned. These people do not get upset or angry, but decide to walk directly out of Omelas. As a result, they do not know what exists outside of happiness, but know where they are going.
This story is a close description to what happens with current events in the United States. Some people hear about social issues relating to discrimination and bigotry through the news or social media. Either way individuals choose to complain on the internet or in private discussions with friends rather than taking any actions. It is easier to act concerned on a public forum in order to say that “I care too” without any consequences. Being a bystander is always easier because there is no risk associated. It can be unnerving for people to participate in a march or a rally, but a good place to begin is by writing their congressman. Another option is to become more knowledgeable about diversity issues and being informed through scholarly articles, lectures, conferences. Finally, current events should be addressed in the classroom and workplaces.