In 1839 English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton coined the phrase: The pen is mightier than the sword. Since then, many have quoted the words and now they are considered an engrained proverb. It basically means words are more powerful and effective than weapons or force in accomplishing your purpose. Furthermore, that writing about ideas is more of a moving force than force can ever be. What do you think? Do you think words are actually more powerful than force or weapons? Would words or writing about ideas of change have been more powerful in Iraq or in Afghanistan than America’s weapons and soldiers? Probably not but in the long run; perhaps.
Real or lasting change occurs when people are spurred to change by understanding, motivation or passion. Conquering people by force is seldom everlasting and much of what the force caused to occur slowly reverts to how things used to be. In a way, perhaps, we are seeing this now occurring in Iraq.
A teacher can seldom make real lasting changes to an out of control or habitually unruly child by getting in their face in a forceful way alone. Motivating that child or helping him understand some basic truths can however, make a lasting change. Writing expressively can bring people to their own understanding of the truth of situations. The key phrase here is bringing people “to their own understanding of the truth.”
If someone wants to convey their outlook or ideas and get others to take on their views, they must of course make it convincing to the person reading their words. However, it must truly light a spark of belief inside the reader for it to take real hold. Some people try to use force when writing with a pen or computer or communicating with words. They use forceful terms indicating if someone does not believe or side with them, they are fools. This seldom motivates people to their way of thinking. When I see this occur, I smirk as it is plain to me that telling adults that they are stupid, foolish or childish does not work to change them. It may change a child or a young person in a military boot camp when coupled with motivation and training in the desired behavior but adults will not change. Some people who communicate with harsh words towards others are doing it for one of two reasons. They are angry at behaviors and are venting or they’re bullies. Those two actions do not change people other than perhaps shutting them up or hurting them, but not changing them. If people want to vent they should clearly state that in their writing. And if they’re bullying, they should try and get to peace within themselves.
All people, whether black, white, Asian, European, Christian, Jewish or Muslim must be touched inside themselves by writers for change to take hold. This is to say the writer’s words must spark a personal light in the reader, which the reader must discern and sort out and then possibly take on the writers ideas.
Yes, the pen, or communicating with others is more powerful than the sword for making real change. Communicating with people, whether by pen, computer or words has the possibility of sparking ideas of change and action inside humans where force could only at best, do temporarily.
Importantly, I think it is wise to remember that for anyone wanting to motivate or change someone to migrate over to his or her way of thinking, they must say the absolute truth regarding the matter and offer ideas that will help them make their own minds up—like leading by example towards the truth. You seldom can force people to come to your side. However, by using honesty and facts, one can motivate people to the right side of an idea or to do the right thing. Even if you are perhaps incorrect in your ideas that you are trying to have others change to, by using your honesty, facts, and the mindset of having others open their minds to the TRUTH they may yet get to the right side–the truth, possibly inadvertently by you. So, drop the sword, literally and figuratively, and grab a pen—it works much better.
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
Latest posts by Steve Kovacs (see all)
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- Meaning—Makes the Man and Woman–Makes the Difference - August 28, 2017
- Bars, Demonstrations, and Getting Thumped… - August 14, 2017