Resistance and change often begin in art and very often in our art, the art of words. – Ursula K. Le Guin
Whenever anyone asks me to recommend short stories, my first suggestion is always “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” but Ursula K. Le Guin.* It’s a story that has haunted me and spurred me to action. It’s a story that taught me that I didn’t have to be a part of a society that didn’t love everyone well, that I could choose another way to walk. It’s a story that taught me that writing could be a very powerful way of making change in the world.
But I don’t want to say more than that because I want you to read it. Really.
This story introduced me to the work of the wise, ruthless, talented gift that was Ursual Le Guin, and yesterday, she died, leaving the entire world – not just the literary one – a little more silent in the face of injustice. Le Guin, both in her writing and in her speaking, challenged any system, any people, any literature that oppressed. She believed we could do better, and she fought for us to believe it, too.
In 2014, Le Guin gave an epic, icon-toppling speech when she received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to Letters at the National Book Awards. When I need to be reminded about why I do what I do, I watch that speech. Maybe you’ll be spurred by watching it, too?
Rest in peace, Ms. Le Guin. May you find utopia in the hereafter. Thank you for being someone in whose footsteps I can follow as both a writer and an activist.