2010 – 7th Grade 4th Place Winner

Justine Nguyen, New Jersey

Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword?

Sticks and Stones

Words are powerful. Sometimes. The words of a pen have the chance of being effective only when everyone is listening. Yet the shining, valiant presence of a sword gets attention. The slash of the blade brings and end to conflicts. The sword is more potent, efficacious, and overall, more mighty.

there were times in history when force was proven to be mightier than plain words. When China attacked Tibet, the Dalai Lama wrote letters to other nations, asking for help. Nobody answered. Tibet had no army to match the might of China, forcing the Dalai Lama to flee to India. It has been fifty years since the invasion, the Tibetans are still without a country.

Contrary to the teachings of elementary school teachers, physical pain is more effective in inflicting fear than hurtful words. When being pushed, punched, or beaten up it isn’t only the bruises that hurt. The intention of the assailant adds to the injury of physical pain. It’s the fact that someone thought so badly of you that they wanted to hurt you in the flesh that is upsetting. However, when spiteful words are spoken, the person knows how easy it is to throw an insult and blurt out words when you are angry or disdainful.

Although guidance counselors always encourage students to talk their problems through, it is more effective to fight it out. In nature, many animals, such as elephant seals and moose, fight each other to settle territorial disputes. Whoever wins is recognized as the superior. Even humans “duke it out” to solve conflicts as a simpler and more efficient solution. When two kids are disputing over who goes first in a game, instead of talking and arguing endlessly, they use “rock, paper, scissors” as a fair solution. Taking action rather than negotiating is essential. Words in the form of empty threats are additionally not anything near as effectual as carrying out these threats. For example, as an experienced teacher would know, simply telling a class to behave or quiet down has no result whatsoever. You have to give some sort of punishment and use fear as a weapon to your advantage. Words are useless without physical reinforcement.

The stereotypical representation of the sword is violence, anger, and brutality, but it can also bring peace. As an example, America won it’s freedom by winning the Revolutionary War, whereas when the colonies simply tried to explain to England about their desire to become a separate nation, nothing happened. This war gave America freedom, as wars of countless of other countries have in history.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As this playground chant states, the capabilities of the sword regarding power and competence are far greater than those of the pen. Words are easy to ignore and destroy, while the sword’s action and force puts a final end to all disputes and in contrast to common beliefs, can bring harmony.

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