2017 – 3rd Grade National 2nd Place Winner

Lila Boutin, California.


Which one is mightier? Which one has more impact? The pen or the sword? I firmly believe the supposedly mild pen has more might and impact than the seemingly unyielding sword. This may seem laughable if you picture a delicate, wee ballpoint cowering under the menacing scowl of a blade.

But to me, demonstrating might doesn’t mean using physical power to force others into acting a certain way. In fact, when violence is used to overcome others, the hurt people just become angry; they haven’t become convinced of any position and are actually more likely to want to fight back. So while the sword can win in the short-term, it will just create more physical fighting without much change of discussing perspectives and changing points of view. Using violence, such as riots and war, shows that someone is angry or has a point to make, but it doesn’t really show what the point is or why others should believe it. So we should consider the brainy pen instead of the brawny sword.

Real might means having a long-term effect on the way people think and what they believe. If people are told of an idea with words rather than being forced to accept a way of life, then there is a better chance of convincing them to believe in the idea. With words, people have time to read, think, discuss, and research ideas, so they understand the issues better and feel more like part of the process of change. If the pen is taken away, then thoughts can’t get expressed calmly. The pen is needed for the kind of communication that makes a lasting difference.

Science is an example of how mighty the pen has been throughout history and how mighty it still needs to be today. Scientists have always used “the pen” in order to make sense of the world with facts. In order to explain scientific ideas to people as correctly as possible, they use writing, researching, recording data, listening, and speaking. When the scientists communicate their information, they are giving knowledge to the community. The power of communications from scientists is shown when others don’t want that science to be read. People who think the scientific information goes against what they want to get done try to block the information from the community; they know how powerful words based of facts can be, so they try to make it so that the community isn’t able to read the science. When these important science records aren’t able to be communicated to people it hurts both scientists and all citizens who need to know the truth. This is an example of how precious and valuable words can be for everyone.

Scientists could choose to use “the sword” to make their point, but this, of course, would just make others angry and scared; people wouldn’t trust them anymore, because they would be causing damage instead of educating the community. Violence would tell people that they greatly want to make others see their points, but it wouldn’t actually bring people to their side. But in addition to continuing to write and communicate their research, scientists can use peaceful protest that would include signs and speeches (written with the pen)! This would be more effective in getting people to listen to their explanations of the world and the universe and what needs to be done to solve problems - and no one would be hurt.

The sword is violent and shouldn’t be used for expression; its impact is very short-term and no one will want to understand your point of view. Words give people a chance to read, listen, and be convinced. So the next time you have a point to make, go ahead and whip out your pen - it’s mightier!





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