2010 – 8th Grade 4th Place Winner

Colin Catlin, Minnesota.

Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword?

The pen and the sword (and other weapons) are two of the greatest inventions of mankind. Each is mighty in their own right, but which is mightier? And which has had a greater impact upon society?

In our modern society, and other societies, like the Romans, that were, at some point, reasonably secure against external and internal violence, the pen has had the upper hand. In modern society’s leisure time we listen to the television, talk on cellphones, use the Internet, and read books. These are some of the most important aspects of our society. They all share one thing, the use of words. Violence has only a strong foothold in branches of the movie and gaming industries. Except for the occasional shove, the practice of physical violence has been almost entirely eliminated from the average person’s life. In my family, we spend almost an hour each day reading books, and at least that much time reading items on the Internet. In addition, the younger part of our family spends almost seven hours at school, where we are entirely surrounded by words. According to the Time magazine, we, as a society, spend half of our free time watching T.V., mostly listening to words.

Words are even more important in government and business. We use them to make alliances, laws, trade deals, even to make international laws on how to act in war, and to declare war. Government is a set of words (the laws that govern it and its people) and a pen (officials in the government writing laws and giving orders) that controls the sword. Businesses use words to govern policies, communicate with suppliers, other branches of the company, etc., ensure successful production, and advertisement. The government and businesses are the foundation and structure necessary for the life of our society.

In our society, the pen and the computer are the creators of almost everything. Weapons have only destroyed that which we have built, such as on 9/11 when airplanes were used as weapons to destroy two symbols of our society that were created by and architect’s pen. Our movie and T.V. scripts, our books, and our Internet articles were all created by the pen and computer.

Most of what we consider the arts (literature, poetry, etc.), sciences (including math), and history are stored in, or are made in the form of the written words. One of the most common of arts, literature, is kept only in written form. Many other arts can be or are stored in the form of the written word, such as the script for a movie. Sciences and history are both stored in the form of the written word because we have yet to devise a better system for the storage of ideas. In scientific research, results, surveys, supply lists, and almost everything from start to finish is stored in the written word. Even the passing down of past violence in the form of history is kept in the form of the written words. Everything uses words.

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