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Ms. Yvonne Guerrero
Settling for Utopia
Isaac Newton once said, "To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". This duality is something that is observed throughout the natural world. It even manifests itself into religions, like the Yin and Yang philosophy of the Tao. Just like in physics, which human nature operates in, happiness cannot exist without sadness. In Ursula Le Guin's short story The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, a child is being held in constant torment in exchange for the happiness of his city. The people of the city know of the boy and accept that it is the price they must pay for their happiness. This duality of happiness and sadness, present throughout Le Guin's story, is proof that utopian societies cannot exist.
By definition, a utopian society is a perfect society in all its moral, social, and political aspects.
Since it is a perfect society, everybody would achieve his or her ultimate goals and personal happiness. Omelas is in fact nowhere near being a perfect society. Even if one were to reject the notion that not everyone can achieve happiness, Omelas would still miserably fail to be a utopian society, because of their knowledge and subsequent repression of the young boy's suffering. The society of Omelas is actually an example of poorly distributed fortune and misfortune. Perfection does not exist here. The young boy's situation is proof of that.
Whenever a citizen of Omelas reaches the ages "between eight and twelve, [or] whenever they seem capable of understanding" (Le Guin 1286), it is explained to them that without the misery of the child, the prosperity of Omelas cannot exist. If the child were to be fed or aided in any way,