|Northern Ireland memorial mural|
For his actions, he was jailed, along with several others of like mind. They saw themselves as soldiers, not common criminals, and their determination to have the conflict recognized led them to a hunger strike.
Ten men died of starvation to make their point and alter public opinion. Many believe it worked, in a way, and resulted in the current form of government in which loyalists and nationalists share power. Just as many see the hunger strike deaths as pointless. The political changes did not happen overnight, but took decades, and may have occurred anyway, without loss of life.
Assuming it was a successful gambit, it is no surprise that another group of oppressed people are calling for attention to their plight, a mirror image of the cause for which Bobby Sands gave his life. While the IRA men starved to escape citizenship in the UK, these modern hunger strikers are not eating so that they can become citizens.
They are the illegal immigrants who came to America looking for the American dream, only to find that Americans see them as law-breakers who should be sent back from whence they came. Congress ignores their demands for a change in status, to remove the illegality of their residence, but to no avail. But surely the Congress will be moved by the
Not eating for a few days is not life threatening. Not eating for three weeks, subsisting on water, is a diet plan that you'd find promoted among the Hollywood glitterati. To say you've gone on hunger strike, only to tag out and be replaced by someone else after a week, is not a hunger strike.
Not eating until you're dead, that's making a statement. Not eating until you've lost twenty pounds? That's almost laughable, considering the lengths to which the IRA went, and the sacrifice that ten of its members made to make the world notice what was going on in Northern Ireland.
Too many Americans have been on fad diets that left them weak, hungry and cranky, to feel much sympathy for someone doing the same thing for whatever cause. They know that after you end your diet, you put all the weight back on and wonder why you struggled so hard for no real, lasting, results.