Velvet Verbosity 100 Word Challenge: Want
This week's challenge is on the subject of "want". The top of the post features entries from the last challenge, on Eden, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the post, you'll find this week's word. I hope some of my readers will take up the challenge. My own entry follows, in bold text, with my comments on what I've written following it.
Want was all Michael had ever known, the one thing he understood. It was a mixture of cold and hunger seasoned with fear. Watching his brothers and sisters turn hairless and thin as sticks, seeing his mother’s dull eyes follow them as she slowly wasted away, every cell of his body crying out in want, he was the last of his family. He died alone, surrounded by their bodies. All the while, mocking the want that consumed him, food left Ireland’s shores to feed the demands of mercantilism. Experts agreed with the British politicians such inhumanity was the best decision.
Some of you may think this is melodramatic. However, such things happened in the late 1840s in Ireland, and happened all too often. Food really did leave the shores of Ireland while her people starved. Politicians really did think their theories were more important than human lives. Granted, this isn't a balanced account, but it is true history.
Half my ancestors came from Ireland. I could legally qualify for Irish citizenship, on two grounds. I don't know the exact experience of every family during the Great Famine, but as they were Protestant Irish, they were likely to do better than most. Notice that I don't say I agree with how Irish Catholics were treated; that was, however, how it was at the time. At least I do know my ancestors were poor enough they weren't busy making life difficult for Catholic families.
In addition, contrary to the myth that Protestant Irish families had no Catholic ancestors, I am aware that any family that lived in Ireland since before Cromwell, as at least one of my lines did, had Catholic ancestors and relatives, however much some of them hated to admit it. So those people who died were my people, some of them related to me, however distantly.
For the past several years, this episode of history has haunted me. I've written stories set during this time, and have several unfinished ones I'm working on. When I saw the word "want", this was the subject that naturally leaped out at me. Those who died in the Holocaust also suffered from want, but they suffered far more from other, more pointed evils. The Great Famine is, to my mind, the perfect showcase for want.
And, yes, this is how I tend to think of politicians and the experts who advise them. All too often, they are trying to do the wrong thing. Even when they try to do the right thing, they pass laws that appear as if they're doing something, but don't really tackle the tough problems head on. That's why I haven't been all fired up about the election; I suspect at least half my blogger friends could do a much better job than any of the candidates.