The Moral Blindspot of First World Nations

How much responsibility, if any, do those in first world nations have to people in need around the world?


A Parable for the Ages:


Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas is a compelling parable (at 29 pages in length) that illustrates what life is like in a fictional, utopian town. In the town of Omelas, Le Guin explains how each citizen is joyous -- but not the ignorant, simpleton type that you may imagine as part of a utopian story. On the contrary, these citizens are educated and live without war or disagreement. “As they did without monarchy and slavery, so they also got on without the stock exchange, the advertisement, the secret police, and the bomb. Yet I repeat that these were not simple folk, not dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland Utopians.”



The children are happy, the old people wise, and the mountain backdrop hangs perfectly in the distance. Le Guin goes on to explain that if the utopian town would be made better by additional relevancies -- say, drugs that are non-habit forming, those too could be added. Whatever makes this city perfect in your mind could be added, she notes, as all of this comes with one simple condition:


In the dank cellar of one of the buildings within the city there is a broom closet. It has a small window that has been cobwebbed over and a moist dirt floor. In the corner of this closet is a child, covered in his own excrement, who is forced to suffer for all of his days locked in the cellar. Not a single kind word can be spoken to the child, and any additional nourishment given to the child outside of his scheduled cornmeal would void the utopian society. Should this single condition -- one suffe