About two days after the election, the sinking feeling in my stomach bloomed into a story. Not my story, nothing I created, but my heart and soul riffled through that memory box I call a brain and gave me a place and a way to express my feelings—or to let beloved author Ursula Le Guin do it for me. Like a punch in the heart, I remembered the central image to the story and what it meant in the context of the election and the hard times that are coming. Weeks later, after countless observations and conversations, the story looms bigger and bigger and won’t leave me.
The story, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, first appeared in the anthology The Wind’s Twelve Quarters: Short Stories. If you haven’t read it, it’s here (it’s very short):
When I was much younger, I believed the ones who walked away were the brave ones—leaving an impossible situation for potentially dangerous one, throwing themselves from the luxury and safety of Omelas into the unknown world because they can’t accept what keeps Omelas Omelas. I read it in high school and likely that’s where my perspective came from—a teenager on the brink.
Now it makes me angry to think about it in the context of the election—that rights and issues so hard-fought for might be lost (reproductive choice, marriage equality, religious freedom, sanctuary for refugees, etc.) as the constitution, among other things, is pillaged by a bunch of marauding…well, you know.
And the Omelians—look how they’re reacting. They don’t see it because they don’t want to see it, because they can live with it, or they see it as a convenient lie because we’re a bunch of crybabies whose candidate lost the election.
God, I hate that line.
My boyfriend is a journalist—and painfully meticulous, fact-based, balanced reporting is his heart and soul. I get to hear what his personal reality is and see how this election has torn him apart. His job sent him to rallies where people wore T-shirts that proclaimed “A journalist, a rope, and a tree.”
Free Speech. Hate speech. Is it that hard to tell the difference?
We live with this sword of Damocles over our heads, with this sick feeling in our stomachs, because we’re all here in the same boat, man. There are men and women standing over us with power in their hands and greed in the sacs of I-don’t-know-what they call hearts, and they have no souls. They fight on twitter like 7th graders (nothing against 7th graders, just sayin’) and plot to take away from everyone, to make our lives so much less. Because they can. And I feel like less because there’s nothing I can do about it, and they’re supposed to represent us.
In order to make myself heard, I’m giving what I can to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Trevor Project. I plan on going to the Women’s March in Boston in January (brrr). I’m going to stay more informed. I’m not going to let any of my friends or family hide behind fake news. I wish I could do more, but anything is better than nothing.
I’m sad and angry because we were making such progress yet now we have these Orwellian shadows looming around us.
These days, I know the ones who walk away from Omelas are just as guilty as the ones who stay.
Don’t be an Omelian—make yourself heard.