“It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin-doors crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants who, as they grow up, either turn thieves for want of work or leave their dear native country…”
And indeed, such a sight cannot leave well-groomed and well-fed passers-by with at least some feeling of repulsion, or even disgust at moments towards those ragged and, we must admit snotty children, whose destiny, without a doubt, is determined in advance. They will remain on the margins of society for the rest of their lives, and unwanted element that only distorts the beautiful image. It has always been so, right? The proof is the given excerpt that sounds so relatable and relevant as if it was written today because such images are still common worldwide. Surprise, surprise! It is a text dating back to 1729, published in Dublin, as an anonymous pamphlet under the title A Modest Proposal For preventing Children of Poor People From being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick, or for short known only as A Modest Proposal. The author is Jonathan Swift, perhaps best known for his Gulliver’s Travels, but he’s also a great poet, a brilliant satirist, and an essayist. This satirical essay was written when his native Ireland was under the rule of the Kingdom of Great Britain and was facing an unprecedented crisis: poverty levels were rising enormously, women and children were particularly affected, the homeless were becoming a standard street decor, prices were rising equivalently with unemployment, the British government introduced restrictions on trade…
Almost three centuries later, the poverty situation in the world is still the same. To illustrate this, according to UNESCO, across the world, about 1 billion children are multidimensionally poor, meaning they lack necessities as essential as nutrition or clean water. Some 150 million additional children have been plunged into multidimensional poverty due to COVID-19. An estimated 356 million children live in extreme poverty. Even in the world’s wealthiest countries, one in seven children still lives in poverty. Today, one in four children in the European Union is at risk of falling into poverty. Children remain the poorest age group in America. Nearly 1 in 6 lived in poverty in 2018—almost 11.9 million children. Тhere were 4.3 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2019-20. That’s 30 percent of children or 9 in a classroom of 30.
Marcus Rashford, a Manchester United footballer, remembers his childhood when he often went to bed hungry with his four siblings. That is why the footballer’s mission is to provide free meals for children from vulnerable categories. “Whatever your feeling, opinion or judgment, food poverty is never the child’s fault,” he said. “Let’s protect our young. Let’s wrap arms around each other and stand together to say that this is unacceptable, that we are united in protecting our children. Today, millions of children are finding themselves in the most vulnerable of environments and are beginning to question what it really means to be British,” says Rashford.
How come it’s never the child’s fault!? Since there are so many poor children, it is only logical to conclude that they are the source of the problem. Why do they want to be born in the first place? They only complicate the already complicated situation as they become an additional burden for the family, for the state–one more mouth to feed. Many people, especially those in power or those who aspire to take that noble position just to help us (of course, not for their pockets) and to make the world a better place than it already is, as if that’s even possible, spend their time and brilliant minds looking for solutions to this burning issue. Today, just like in the past, they work tediously, as evidenced by their sweaty, fatty under-chins. It’s time for them to take a rest and finally stop working for the common good. Because there is an easy solution to children’s poverty. You may ask what? Well, they just need to reconsider the ingenious Swift’s idea. In his essay, he proposes to the Irish Parliament how to deal once and for all with these little creatures, which are not so sweet apparently, and that is: to make children food for the rich!
So, the rich, who, truth to be told, have a really refined taste, will stop hunting for a while as they have extinguished so many species already and will enjoy filling their bellies with infant’s meat. But wait, this will solve many other problems too, as the author of this great idea states, for which many will ask themselves how didn’t they think of it before. According to Swift, among the many benefits of eating children is that parents, as breeders, will stop spending money to support them after the first year. Consequently, the national wealth, in general, will rise. There will be an increase in the number of customers in restaurants, where an infant’s food (meaning food made from infants and not for infants) will be served at a high price because it will be consumed only by gentlemen. It will be a motive for young people to marry and procreate. Knowing that the baby will bring them income at the end of the first year, instead of being an expense for them, mothers will even compete which one will have a chubbier child, and men will become gentler to women during pregnancy. So, with one stone, we’ll kill two and maybe more birds. Just like with a magic stick, we will erase all problems, including poverty. Can’t you see it!?
We can conclude that this well-thought-out and comprehensively analyzed proposal has no flaws and is a real solution to poverty. Of course, it would be ridiculous to start, for example, to nurture the spirit of community from an early age, take care of the common good, and not just personal interests, when we can simply just set in motion the suggested proposal for eating children. How immature it would be to learn that change lies in joint action, that it is good to be careful, sensitive to each other, moderate, instead of avaricious, unable to satisfy our greed. Oh no, it won’t be good to provide free access to quality school education and free health services or to support parents to become a productive element of society, thus breaking the vicious circle of poverty and passing it on as a legacy for the next generation. Therefore, it’s easy–eat the children! Before they get too weak and die from hunger!
You can read the essay A modest proposal at the following link and enjoy the ingenuity and biting sarcasm of Jonathan Swift.