Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons.
– General Douglas MacArthur
You’re alone in a field. A large, snarling man is running at you with a long, steel sword raised above his head, and he’s getting close; are you feeling confident with only that Bic Quad-color pen in your hand?
“Okay,” you say, “the pen isn’t mightier in that situation. But sometimes it is.”
Really? And when would that be?
“Well,” you mumble as you hurriedly assemble your defense… After all, you’ve said “the pen is mightier than the sword” a lot of times, and you don’t want to just admit that you’ve been mindlessly repeating it to friends and family, and that other people started repeating it from your example!
Let me stop you right here. You’re ready to defend something that you more or less know is false! Think about that. What this means is that you’re willing to call black white, if it keeps you from facing blame.
Dear reader, take the blame. We’ve all said stupid things. Sorry, but that’s the truth. We’ve all been born into a difficult and confusing life, and we still have a long way to go in clearing our minds. I don’t like that any better than you do, but we’re never going to escape stupid errors if we don’t face them.
So, you screwed-up. So what! So have I; so has everyone. Get over it and move on. We’re all ignorant of many things, we’ve all been confused at times, and we’ve all made mistakes. As long as they weren’t gigantic mistakes, they really weren’t that important. What is important, is correcting them when we see them.
So, stop being so defensive and move on.
Okay, your response was going to be: “But the pen can make the people rise up and oppose the wrong.” Fine so far, but what that really means is that the people – being many – will bring some kind of force against “the wrong.” This can be physical force, or perhaps just angry people who will vote a politician out of office.
What this all means is that the pen is only mighty when it gathers force. And this, of course, means that the pen is not mightier than the sword. In other words, the old saying is misleading at best, and utterly stupid when we base further ideas and arguments upon it.
The truth is this:
The pen is only mightier than the sword when it calls more swords to the battle.
[Myth: The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword is an excerpt from Paul Rosenberg’s book, Mindless Slogans – 101 Cheap Substitutes for Actual Thought]