Mightier Than the Sword

Laurisa Gruver | Editor


“The pen is mightier than the sword.”


Photo credit: Pixabay

This age-old adage from Edward Bulwer-Lytton has wedged itself into society for almost two centuries. We’ve all heard it, but do we really understand what it means?


As I prepare to transfer to another college and major in professional writing, this quote has been a topic in my recent ponderings. At first, the comparison of a pen to a sword seems nonsensical, and, as my ever-practical brother would put it, “A sword could easily slice a pen in half.”


However, I believe the comparison to a sword is meaningful on several deep levels.


Both a sword and a pen are powerful in different ways. Knowing how to write well can change your life because writing can take you places. The skill impresses people.


While all writing is beneficial in its own way, there is one form that stands out to me as the most powerful: storytelling. Storytelling in all its forms has the power to bring people into a new world, to show them a new perspective, to inspire emotions, and to act as balm to a heart wounded by reality.

But there are plenty of powerful things to use as a comparison. Why a sword? Because a sword is dangerous, just as writing is a dangerous craft that can be harnessed in ways that manipulate. There is a fine line between healthy enjoyment of fantasmal storytelling and becoming addicted to escapism. When life gets hard, it becomes easy to withdraw and nestle ourselves inside a fake world instead of facing problems. We miss out on the adventures of our own lives and forget to be thankful for what we have.


In these ways, I see similarities between the pen and the sword. But we can not overlook the obvious differences. After all, the quote states the pen is mightier than the sword.


This distinction is a challenge. A challenge to choose words over violence. The powerful tool of writing is often overlooked in our fleshly rages, and sometimes we forget that the most powerful way of communicating is at the tip of a pencil, not the blade of a sword.

I wholeheartedly believe that if we paid more attention to writing, this world would be a much better place.


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