Why were so many Americans insulted, even spurred to threaten violence, by the story when it was first published?
1. Its depiction is true and truth strikes a nerve, telling us something demonic about human nature.
2. That we’re not as civilized as we think, for people are driven more by irrational and traditional forces than they are by logic and reason.
3. In spite our façade of being civilized, we’re consumed by bloodlust and the need for violence.
4. We’re too cowardly to admit our murderous violence, so we veil it within sanctimonious rituals.
5. We have a backward primitive notion of God, who we see as a tribal deity thirsty for blood sacrifice. In fact, this so-called God is a projection of our own murderous unconscious.
6. We corrupt our children’s innocence by forcing them to participate in our murderous ways.
7. The glue that keeps our society cohesive and unified is often violence and the arbitrary killing of an innocent party.
8. We reject the progress of science and reason so that we can uphold a primitive notion of appeasing a violent god.
9. We commit violence against others with piety and middle-class morality in order to appease our conscience and to maintain our sense of moral superiority.
10. We commit violence as a group, rather than as individuals, because it’s easier to say we we’re simply following orders rather than taking personal responsibility. In other words, we’re cowards.
Conditions for the Banality of Evil in “The Lottery”
1. For the evil perpetrators, the end justifies the means; usually the “end” is to “purge,” “cleanse,” or “purify” some human “contaminant.”
2. Violence is not spectacular but part of the numbing, commonplace everyday activity.
3. The perpetrators of evil are not conspicuously evil but mediocre, innocuous, conforming.
4. The perpetrators of evil are not bold decision makers but placid followers, eager to please authority figures.
5. For the evil perpetrators, there is no human dimension to cruelty and violence; rather, murder and/or torture are done in a cold, detached bureaucratic fashion.
6. The evil perpetrators have an absence of imagination to see the human and moral dimensions of their actions.
7. There is complicity between evil political agenda and the followers’ lack of empathy.
8. The evil perpetrators are automatons who obey superficial “decency” and “manners” and outward appearances in order to hide their brutality to others and to themselves.
9. The evil perpetrators assiduously exercise an adherence to convention and empty political clichés in order to enable their violent actions.
10. Evil perpetrators focus on the letter of the law, no the spirit.
Major Theme in "The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas"
Scapegoating: Sacrificing a usually innocent party for the greater good of the majority or for an elite group.
An Arizona politician wants to create an extra tax for fat people. Since most fat people come from a poor economic background, the tax will punish the poor to fund the needs of people with higher incomes.
Slave labor overseas and even in our borders (think chicken farms) keeps prices down so we can buy more crap we don't need.
Poor people agree to be subjects in medical experiments so that procedures and drugs can be approved for general use. This is also called being a "guinea pig."
We conduct hideous experiments on animals to make sure medical procedures and cosmetics are safe for humans.
Today's Essay Option
In a 5-page essay, compare the tribe’s influence on nihilism, the misguided desire for a provisional existence, and the soul’s forfeiture of meaning in “The Lottery” and “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” Your Works Cited page should refer to the two stories, Frankl’s book, my blog, and one other source for a total of 5 sources.
Introducing Your Essay with Transition and Thesis
Recently while hiking up the Palos Verdes Trail, I saw two unleashed dogs, one a black pit-bull mix, the other a tan German Shepherd mix, descending upon me. Hundreds of gallons of adrenaline and cortisol stress hormone flooded my body as I told my friend Rafael, “We’ve got loose dogs. Don’t know if they’re hostiles or friendlies.”
Instead of hiking the steep trail as was my original plan, I deviated left to get away from the two dogs, but they chased me. Now standing still with my back turned, I heard Rafael say, “One of them is right behind you.”
Moments later, I felt the black dog’s bated breath on my butt and did my best not to cower in fear in front of the other hikers.
Wondering if a chunk of flesh would be torn from a butt cheek, or worse, if I was in the blink of an eye to be castrated, I then heard a faint woman’s voice: “Don’t worry. The dogs are friendly.”
Seconds later, a mousey woman in her late thirties with adult acne descended the trail. She said she was sorry and then repeated that her dogs were friendly before disappearing with her canine companions down one of the trails.
After pumping all that adrenaline and cortisol through my system and on the verge of cowering in front of strangers, I expected more than a meek apology. All those panic-induced hormone secretions must have cut at least a few weeks from my life. But in her mind we were even. In her mind terrorizing people with her loose dogs is a peccadillo that can be erased with a curt “I’m sorry.” And with clear conscience she probably sleeps in bed at night like a baby.
I shouldn’t demonize her. I should demonize us all since she behaves like most of us, operating on a Bare Minimum Decency model, asserting just enough decency to create a façade to others, and ourselves, that we’re good so we can go through the world with a positive self-image when in fact that self-image is grossly inaccurate.
This gross disparity between tribes of people who feel good about themselves but who are in fact truly evil is rendered in the two stories, "The Lottery" and "The Ones Who Walked Away from Omelas." Both stories show the conditions that make this evil possible, including ________________, _________________, ___________________, and _____________________.