Assess the moral condition of Omelas.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that this question becomes one of the most fundamental arising from the story.  Essentially, the question of morality on many levels is raised.  Can morality be considered transcendent and universal when it is posited in a condition of contingency?  This is the condition of Omelas.  The citizens in the town are moral, for the most part, to one another.  They do not engage in much in way of deliberate cruelty to one another.  Yet, the most basic question of morality has to come upon the setting where the reality of this child is evident.  The town is content with recognizing that their own happiness comes at the cost of this child's suffering and toil.  As long as the child is contained in such a setting and treated in the manner he is, the town  can be happy.  I think that this is where the issue of morality enters.  On some level, if morality is constructed as a setting where the suffering of individuals are inevitable and this does not pose a bother or hesitation to others, this is something that has to be defended and asserted.  At the same time, the overriding question that is raised is whether or not a morality can be constructed that does not seek to include as many voices in it as possible.  It is here here the story gives more questions than answers, leaving it up to the reader to formulate their own judgments and make the assessments on morality in their own settings and conditions.  The question of the moral soundness of Omelas, thus, becomes a reflection of the reader's own moral compass.

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