The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is a story of society's debt to the individual—how a person must choose between a “civilized” society and one that condones torture. If making one person suffer on the part of many is wrong, is it wrong to send a soldier off to war when he does not wish to go? When must one draw the line between holding onto our culture and stepping away from it all, in order to remove oneself from the actions of a society?
Ursula K. Le Guin's story features a beautiful city where everyone is happy. Even so, it is not a utopian society. In order for everyone else to live as they are, joyfully, one single child has been made a scapegoat, and endures a horrible existence locked in a tiny room. This child is never given a kind word, and is abused and looked down on. The people of Omelas are aware of this, and believe, rightly or wrongly, that every bit of happiness in their lives depends solely on the child's misery.
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