Does "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" relate to American culture today?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" may relate better today to American culture than it did when it was written as so often today truth is valued only for its use to a select group or to a particular individual.

This story explores people's notions of reality, and in contemporary culture there are often individuals who adjust their concepts of reality to fit their desires. One well-publicized incident which can exemplify the selective truth of Omelas is that of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal of Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky was a married man, who often had sexual encounters with student athletes and boys in a camp situation, as well as in the basement of his house. Because some of these incidents took place in this basement, it is hard to believe that Mrs. Sandusky was not aware of her husband's aberrant behavior. Perhaps, then, Mrs. Sandusky ignored the "degraded child[ren]," choosing the "vapid, irresponsible happiness" of which LeGuin's narrator speaks.

One insight on "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" is the following:

A person cannot accept happiness that results from the immoral and cruel victimization and suffering of others.

Certainly, this astute insight on LeGuin's story applies to the situation of Mrs. Sandusky's choice of ignoring the truth--or, at least, her choice of rationalization of the truth. 

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