I was recently re-introduced to a powerful vignette by Ursula Leguin, "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," It's well worth a read.
The people at the door never say anything, but the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and its mother's voice, sometimes speaks. "I will be good," it says. "Please let me out. I will be good!" They never answer. The child used to scream for help at night, and cry a good deal, but now it only makes a kind of whining, "eh-haa, eh-haa," and it speaks less and less often. It is so thin there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes; it lives on a half-bowl of corn meal and grease a day. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually.
They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas.
We all know the child is there. And we all must ask ourselves:
- Will I be one of those who accepts the child's terrors as a 'necessary evil'?
- Will I be one of those who tears at my hair, in anguish and guilt, but then looks and walks away?
- Or will I be one of those who decides that it's time.... after 10,000 years of domination and violence... it's time to take a stand?