The One Who Walked Towards Omelas

[Note: this is an original written piece by Adam that was inspired by the philosophical fiction book ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’ by Ursula K. Le Guin.]

“He gave his life for the release of all other beings in the universe from suffering...except him of course. He is the one who walked towards Omelas, not away, and offered himself up in an act of self-sacrifice. He is the first and so far only person to ever volunteer to walk towards Omelas in self-sacrifice, and he was, is and shall be known as the only single being to ever do such a thing, and so this fact shall remain until the end of space and time, I am sure.

    I say he ‘gave his life’, which he most certainly did, but he is not dead...death would be preferable, but he did what he thought had to be done; his fate is one of those that is certainly worse than death - far, far worse. So he gave his life and then some - his life, plus a whole lot more. You and I, we, all of us, we’re freed from suffering because of him, so why does my heart still ache when I think of him, when I tell this story to anyone? Has it not worked as fully as we all thought at first? Is this a test? He is imprisoned in the core of this planet; are we supposed to go in and rescue him? But I could not bear the prospect of watching a carnivorous animal consume its prey, hearing the screams of a child sinking into quicksand, drunken revellers surrounding and beating a homeless person, witnessing a friend having a psychotic episode, or knowing what really happens in slaughterhouses when there are no cameras...and yet, I still cannot force myself to accept what is happening to this man.

    Only a very small percentage of this universe’s inhabitants know the truth about this situation and the man held prisoner in perpetual and never-ending torment - everyone else are content to just believe that we are living in an eternal Golden Age through our own mastery and innovation all by themselves; that could well have been the case, if not for this one secret.

    This ethical dilemma is causing me some pain, it’s causing me suffering. Something has gone wrong, I should not be suffering, I should not be wrestling with feelings of remorse, guilt and regret - and yet I am! Which means that it has not fully worked, we have been tricked, deceived, lied to...we must go in and rescue him then. Are you in?”

[Reminder: this was a miniature piece of philosophical fiction written as a thought-experiment response to the similarly philosophical original story about Omelas by Le Guin, but one about someone volunteering to be the sacrifice instead of someone imprisoned against their will as in the original story. The narrator realises that if they can still feel remorse, guilt and regret, then the project to be free from suffering turned out to be a failure, since they are examples of emotional suffering, of course.]