Lessons from Omelas: Our thoughts on the Covid vaccine

    Maybe you’re familiar with Ursula Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” It’s about a sweet and peaceful city with lovely parks and delightful music.

    The people in the city are genuinely happy. They enjoy their handsome buildings and a “magnificent” farmers’ market.

    Le Guin describes a festival day with delicious beer and horse races: “An old woman, small, fat, and laughing, is passing out flowers from a basket, and tall young men wear her flowers in their shining hair. A child of nine or ten sits at the edge of the crowd, alone, playing on a wooden flute.”

    It is an idyllic, magical place.

    But then Le Guin describes one more feature of Omelas. In the basement of one of the buildings, there is a small broom-closet-sized room with a locked door and no windows. A small child is locked inside the room. It looks about 6, but, actually, the child is nearly 10. “It is feebleminded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition and neglect.”

    Occasionally, the door opens and people look in. The child used to cry out, “Please let me out. I will be good!” But the people never answered and now the child just whimpers. It is terribly thin, lives on a half-bowl of cornmeal a day and must sit in its own excrement.

    “They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas,” Le Guin writes. “Some of them have come to see it; others are content merely to know it is there. They all know it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children ... depend wholly on this child’s abominable misery.”

    That is the social contract in Omelas. One child suffers horribly so that the rest can be happy. If the child were let free or comforted, Omelas would be destroyed. Most people feel horrible for the child, and some parents hold their kids tighter, and then they return to their happiness.

    The story is a challenge to the utilitarian mind-set so prevalent today.

    In theory, most of us subscribe to a set of values based on the idea that a human being is an end not a means. You can’t justifiably use a human being as an object. It is wrong to enslave a person, even if that slavery might produce a large good. It is wrong to kill a person for his organs, even if many lives might be saved.

    Yet in 2020 we find ourselves in a similar situation to the one postulated by this work of fiction. 

    At the end of a year gripped by a global pandemic we have been offered a solution. A vaccine has become available that will allow us a return to normality, a return to prosperity and a return to the joy that comes from getting to be with each other once again. However, that freedom and prosperity, just as it was for the people of Omelas, comes at the cost of the life of an innocent child.

    There has been much debate, information and misinformation shared about the origins of Covid-19 vaccines. What is, however, clear is that the vaccines that are being made available in the UK have been tested or developed using cell lines derived from the murder of an innocent child in the womb.

    There will be many Christians who know that the vaccine, and hence the return to prosperity and normality, can be inextricably linked to the murder of a child and, even though this makes them uncomfortable, will begrudgingly take it. They will cite the ‘greater good’ and the necessity of ‘loving your neighbour’ by vaccinating themselves against a disease that they could pass on to others. Like the people of Omelas who dared to look at the child locked in the basement they will acknowledge the horror of the acts committed against an innocent child in the name of their freedoms and then return to their happiness.

    The question that must be asked before taking a vaccine developed or tested on fetal cell lines is this: Was the child who was murdered to allow the creation of the Covid-19 vaccine, regardless of when this happened, your neighbour? As God’s image-bearers, all humans both display His divine worth, power, and attributes, and possess the same objective worth before God, not varying on the basis of incidental characteristics; such as ethnicity, age, size, means of conception, mental development, physical development, gender, potential, or contribution to society (Rom 1:19-20; Gen 1:28; 9:6; Matthew 18:6). When Christ said to “love your neighbour” he meant all of your neighbours - this includes the pre born child. Any attempt to justify the murder of one of your neighbours to save other neighbours is an abomination.

    “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? There is not one.” - Job 4:14

    The harvesting of tissues from the bodies of murdered babies in the 1970s and 1980s may have laid the foundations for many of the Covid-19 vaccinations that are being developed today. At the same time, however, they saw the beginning of a multi billion pound industry that harvests the organs of the victims of abortion.

    In 2016 the Centre for Medical Progress secretly filmed employees of Planned Parenthood discussing how they altered abortion procedures in order to allow specific organs to be harvested and sold for medical research. The shocking footage included descriptions of how babies were born alive during abortions so that their still beating heart could be cut from their chests.

    The people who recorded this covert footage were prosecuted in 2019 for breaching confidentiality laws. As part of their trial employees of Planned Parenthood were interviewed under oath about their organ harvesting programs. The shocking brutality of the interviews is available for all to see in the video below.

    To attempt to justify the use of fetal cell lines in Covid-19 vaccinations only serves to legitimise the modern practice of harvesting the organs from the murdered bodies of our preborn neighbours. As Christians we should should decry the murder of the preborn and proclaim that is wrong without exception. We must demand that the practice of child sacrifice be made illegal, even when that sacrifice is being made for the ‘greater good’ of society. Rejecting an immunisation developed with or tested on fetal cell lines is an appropriate way to demand this.

    Ethical vaccinations are in the testing phase and will become available shortly. We urge you to lobby your political leaders to ensure that an ethical vaccine becomes available and that our government do not invest money in the murder of preborn children for medical experimentation.

    At the end of her story Ursula Le Guin states that some go to see the child in the room and then keep walking. They leave behind the happiness and prosperity of the city as they don’t want to be part of that social contract. “They leave Omelas; they walk ahead into the darkness and they do not come back.”

    For those rejecting unethical vaccinations there may be implications in terms of their freedoms. This is still unclear. Their conscience, however, will be. 

    Be like those who walked away from Omelas.


    “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”  by Ursula Le Guin can be read by clicking here.


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