Dismantle Omelas: Build Something New

These are times of hope. 

digital collage: dismantle omelas, build something new. A city. brick texture. sunflowers growing.

These are times of rage.

These are times of possibility.

These are times of despair.

In The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, Ursula K. Le Guin reminds us that at the heart of a comfortable, abundant city is a suffering child. That’s the bargain: for peace and prosperity to exist, so must suffering. In the story, most city dwellers make a choice to allow the one child to suffer in order to preserve the quality of life for the rest. A few walk away, unable to bear the terrible price.

Well, walking away is not good enough, and it never has been.

***

The wealthiest people in the world want the rest of us to die in order to preserve their wealth and comfort. They want to hoard resources and live in luxury stolen from the bowels of the earth and the backs of the suffering poor. They poison sky and water and make downtrodden generations pay.

They always have, whether consciously or not. For centuries, the few have lived off the blood of the many.

***

It is past time we dismantle Omelas.

Those who suffer the most need those of us who live in relative comfort to not look away. To not walk away.

Those who suffer the most need solidarity. They need us to show up with them and say, “No more.”

So we must choose: to Fight. to Rage. to Strategize. to Organize.

We must do everything within our power to dismantle the systems of crushing oppression. Right now, that looks like a need to:

  1. Insist on debt eradication.

  2. Support rent strikes.

  3. Insist on housing the houseless.

  4. Support general work strikes.

  5. Insist on healthcare for all.

  6. Support the release of the imprisoned.

  7. Insist on bread, and roses too.

We can build a better society. We just have to decide what we want. I want:

  1. A society not based on systems of wealth and resource hoarding.

  2. A society based on sharing resources.

  3. Worker owned business collectives.

  4. Community owned housing, parks, and schools.

  5. A society that values good quality of life for all, rather than luxury for the few.

  6. Justice. Equity. Love.

I believe that we can have these things, and we can and will continue to engage in non-transactional mutual aid.

I believe that we must use our collective will to apply pressure to those who currently hold the reigns of power and demand that they step down and let those with a kinder vision—one rooted in fierce compassion—to collectively lead.

We have a chance to dismantle Omelas, but we have to take it.

The time is now.

 

March 24, 2020

 

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