2010 – 5th Grade 2nd Place Winner

Arthur Lowenstein, New York.

Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword?

“The pen is mightier than the sword,” is a famous aphorism written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839. Bulwer-Lytton was an author and a politician who lived in London. Some people do not agree with this aphorism. One might think the sword is mightier than the pen. People think this because weapons scare people, weapons are used to conquer places, and weapons are used more often when countries are fighting.

If a colonist went up to King George III during the American Revolution (1775-1783) and said, “Excuse me sir, but I think you should free the colonies,” he would not listen. The Founding Fathers- Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson- did not just have to write the Declaration of Independence, they also had to fight for independence. In a mugging, the mugger might carry a weapon. This is because weapons scare people. In this case, a weapon would scare someone into giving the mugger the victim’s money. Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher of the Renaissance, once said, “Before all else, be armed.” This means that if somebody is armed, that person would be able to defend himself or herself and nobody would want to attack the armed person. Thomas Hobbes, another great philosopher, who wrote during the 17th century, thought that humans’ fear of death is the most powerful force in life. Therefore, if someone had a weapon pointing at someone else threatening to kill that person, most likely, the person without the weapon would do what the person with the weapon says, due to his or her fear of death.

Weapons are used to conquer places. Gaius Julius Caesar, a general and statesman in the Roman Empire, who lived from 100 B.C.E to 44 B.C.E, wrote the words, “Veni, vidi, vici,” or “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Not, “I came, I saw, I spoke to.” he said this after conquering Zela, in modern Turkey, where he had defeated Parnaces II of Pontus. Caesar used force to conquer Zela and other countries to create the Roman Empire, not words. Another example is WWII. In WWII, the Nazis conquered by force. The Nazis did not just talk to the countries to take them over. Even the countries that joined the Axis may have joined because they were scared of being conquered and wanted to be on what they thought would be the winning side.

Violence is not good. However, violence is used more in conflicts between countries, such as in Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. There is a person in the United States called the Secretary of State that tries to communicate with other countries. However, it usually does not work. The world would be a better place if everybody used words instead of violence. Realistically, a world without violence will never happen.

In conclusion, the sword is mightier than the pen for all of these reasons. Weapons scare people, weapons are used conquer, and violence works more in conflicts with other countries. In addition, as Machiavelli said, “It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”


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