2010 – 6th Grade 4th Place Winner
Victoria Tu, Illinois.
Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword?
Pearl Strachan once said, “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” In other words, language is even stronger than the most powerful weapons known to man. Some people say violence is more influential than words because acts of force can kill. However, I have a different opinion. Words are everlasting, while force is ephemeral.
To begin, words can inspire people to pick up arms, but fighting rarely inspires the words that change the world. Books, speeches, or even propaganda can motivate people to fight to their death for the message communicated in words, but violence rarely inspires people to write a beautiful poem or speech. For example, the Declaration of Independence inspired people to fight for their freedom, even though many lives were sacrificed and many people gave up all that they had. If we look back at the violence of the American revolution today, the individual battles have mostly been long forgotten. However, the message of freedom found in the Declaration of Independence still lives on; it’s the basis of our culture.
Secondly, words never die, but aggressive acts die with the people who experience them . Words, speeches, or scripture exist eternally as they are recorded, translated, printed, and reprinted, but an act violence remains with the person who was victimized by it. For instance, martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream..” speech is still studied and read by millions. People are still using his speech to motivate themselves. However, the police brutality in Alabama is remembered because of its inclusion in history textbooks and the stories passed on by those brave, early, civil rights activists. Once a word is pronounced, it is never forgotten; whereas, bruises heal and the pain of death is forgotten.
Finally, an act of language can be shared by millions, whereas a battle can only be shared by those who were there. A book can be translated into a hundred different languages and a speech can be read on the Internet by millions of people all over the world; however, a battle can only be shared by those who were physically there. To demonstrate, during the 2008 presidential election, President Obama repeated the phrase “Yes we can!” This quotation became repeated by millions of people across the United States and even parts of the world. People read his words on the Internet; they heard him on the radio; the saw him on TV. Millions of people shared Obama’s words. It brought many different kinds of people to support Obama, from middle class African-Americans in Alabama to high ranking officials in Europe. His words brought many people from different backgrounds and social classes together. His elocution of a few powerful words inspired people and ultimately helped him win the election.
Imagine a world in which there were no words. People would only be able to communicate through motion and gesture. Gesture could be misinterpreted and our society would progress no further because we would be like animals. All together, it is specious to presume that the sword is more powerful than the pen because an act of force is momentary, while words are eternal.
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