So That Pen…

…Is it really mightier than the sword?

We’ve all heard the quote before, right? In case you haven’t—

“The pen is mightier than the sword”

Edward Bulwer-Lytton 1839


But what does it mean?
Well, for me who has had the last thirty years or so to sit and think about it, which I have, I’ve developed my own understanding of the phrase.

Unlike today, I never had google at my disposal, (which I feel has destroyed many peoples ability to think, but that is another post in itself) to check what it meant or why it was said, but I had heard it. 

A pen, mightier than a sword? What a fun thing to think about.

Myself, and maybe many others, see it as a physical Vs mental battle. If you haven’t then please read on. Battle, however, may be a strong or even wrong word to use, but as I associate a physical sword with the physical harm it can cause. It’s hard for me not to see it this way.

So here’s my thinking…

A sword causes physical pain, whereas a pen (unless you’re James Bond) causes emotional distress. So this is how I get to my physical vs mental battle theory.

Taking that into account it is the reason why I say: –

A pen can orchestrate your life, whereas a sword will end it.
And a pen can cause your heart to sink where a sword will sink into your heart.
A pen can cause you to overthink whereas a sword can stop you thinking, literally.

So where am I going with all this?
Well, both battles are hard to deal with, but I believe the hardest between the struggles sway in favour of the pen, inflicting the most and worse kind of damage which to me is mental damage.

In a simple way to explain it without diluting the severity too much, my examples sound like this…

 Sword: You are at war, you fought well, but you were stabbed in the back (you know how that feels already) straight through the heart. You never saw it coming, and the wound is a mortal one. The suffering caused is physical.

Pen: You come home from work, there’s a note on the table. You open it and recognise your partners’ handwriting instantly. Wonder what this is?

 “I’m breaking up with you, I’ve blocked your number, don’t try to call me, I’ve moved on!”

Ouch, that would hurt, right? I would even go to say that is precisely how a sword through the heart would feel, I mean, you may have experienced how much it hurts being stabbed in the back before, and there was never a sword, knife or dagger present at that time of pain, was there? 

If you can see the difference between these two genuine incidents and give yourself time to think about it, you will know why the pen is such a big deal, yet it’s not dealt with seriously enough.

Our minds are like theatres, and our imaginations love to perform. Words allow the theatre to open the doors and pull the puppet’s strings. But allowing words this kind of access has a high price to pay, especially with how easily they are to throw around and even more so in recent years.

With the introduction of social media, we are throwing billions of words daily into the web for others to see and read.
Some combinations of these words are cries for help. Some are to make you laugh, others to make you think or to manipulate the way you think, and some are just there because we like to let the voice inside our heads be heard.

Whichever one it maybe they all in some way open the curtains to the theatre of our minds. Sometimes we have a full audience to share it with, but other times we are playing to rows of empty seats.

And that is how some of the mental damage can occur. Do we have the strength to get through it? And if so what will the impact be from the next mental hit we take? A boxer can sometimes take a blow to the head, but after a few? You’ve all seen it.

The reason I have also adopted a writing approach is that I think the pen and paper have been the most important inventions ever. The problem is, and will also be the problem is how we use it. If you seriously think about what it allows you to do, it is mind-blowing, literally. But that is another blog topic on its own which I will visit.

But, with the research today it points to 1-in-3 adults have, or will suffer from mental health issues with the scale closer to 1-in-2 than 1-in-4.
It’s alarming. And having spent the last 30 years mulling over this quote, I believe the pen is a big factor towards the mental struggles many face today.

So when you next combine a group of words, think about what it really means to say what you are about to say and how that combination will pull apart the stage curtains in the reader’s mind. This is why in my mind, the pen will always be mightier than the sword.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

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