Continuing from here. Same trigger warnings for relationship abuse and self-harm apply.
There was a story.
“Would you walk away?” he asked one night after class.
The story was “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula LeGuin. It’s dystopic, about a city whose success depends on the forced suffering of a child. At some point while growing up, all of the citizens are told about the child, are required to see the child, and reassess thier understanding of the world from there. Despite learning that in this place, their happiness can only come from another’s suffering, most people choose to stay.
“Would you walk away?” he pressed, a little more insistently this time.
To be fair, I’d been silent a while, pondering. Because I recognized that I have had a pretty happy existence in this world and that I’d grown comfortable — complacent, even — in that happiness. My problems largely consisted of whether it was time to stop pining for the guy I’d been crushing on since ninth grade, dealing with the hassle of useless doctors, and wondering whether AP calculus was about to ruin my GPA in the coming year.
I wanted to say that even though the citizens of Omelas think they are happy, their happiness is not only superficial but self-deluding. Underneath it is the guilt their happiness is founded upon. Underneath is that child, one who is purposely made less so that others can be made more. What kind of happiness is that, I wanted to ask, to be dependent on the misery of someone else?
“I don’t think I could stay,” I said slowly.
Because really, what kind of authenticity is there to a life — to a joy — that is founded on lies?
“So you would walk away?” It was still a question, leaving space to clarify my response.
And yet I was comfortable in my complacent, maybe inauthentic joy. Happy, even, I could tell myself. I could make myself believe.
“Someday.” I stared at the moon, my voice barely audible. “I like to think I would, anyway.”