It is a common phenomenon that whenever we feel oppressed or threatened, most people resort to using violent means or engage in a brawl that often leaves the weaker party severely bruised. We often forget a safer, subtle and very potent means of solving problems. This article appreciates the fact that ideas put on a paper or communicated verbally are more effective means of resolving any issues.
The pen is mightier than the sword is an expression first coined by an English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. It means that written words are far more effective and powerful in resolving issues than violence.
A pen represents words in written form, ideas or speech carefully communicated with the intent to awaken the minds of people. An encounter with a pen resonates deeply into the heart of people and it leaves an indelible mark that neither time nor violence can erase.
On the other hand, the sword represents violence, war, crisis, chaos etc. The sword is harsh, causes pain and fear but its effect is ephemeral like the pain of a needle piercing. The sword is an instrument of compulsion and coercion; ensuring obedience under duress. Meanwhile the pen is an instrument of persuasion capable of galvanizing governmental and public interest in order to act in a certain way.
For centuries, the power of writing has helped transform the world. Philosophers, authors and writers have relied on the use of pen in communicating ideas to improve the social fabric of the world. Many great writers have destroyed dictatorships, monarchies and autocracies with a slingshot of a pen. For example, “The right of man” a book by Thomas Paine is credited to have spurred the American revolution and is considered one of the founding texts of Democracy. Obnoxious practices like the Sati Pratha, slavery, girl child killing, oppression etc. have been destroyed by the precise use of pen.
Contrastingly, the pen has also been used in signing treaties, codifying laws of nations and to excite readers of books of literature. With a pen, a writer is able to invite his readers into his world to travel through his thought or ideas, a feat the sword is incapable of achieving. The books of various authors and writers (John Locke, Charles Darwin etc) have contributed to development of man than the war conquest of great warriors like Ashoka and Alexander the great.
To further validate the truth of the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword are the words of Thomas Jefferson on the 19th June 1792, he ended a letter to Thomas Paine with; “Go on then in doing what in other times was done with the sword”.
Joseph Smith, an account on the book of Mormon is quoted as saying, “The word has a greater tendency to lead the people to do that which was just; Yea, it had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword”.
Also, Robert Burton in 1621, in anatomy of melancholy stated that; “it is an old saying, a blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword”.
Finally, to nail the argument is the famous quote of Napoleon Bonaparte – “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets”.
In today’s world, the pen is rarely thought of as a tool that can be used to solve problems. Perhaps we only have a myopic view of the pen especially when its physical size is smaller compared to the sword. When attending to a problem that seem insurmountable, we must ensure that all options are explored and best remedy is applied.