Many are acquainted with the idiom “The pen is mightier than the sword”, but may never understand the context in which it is relevant. The phrase was first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu. Richelieu, who was chief minister to King Louis XIII, discovers a plot to kill him, but as a priest he is unable to take up arms against his enemies. His page, Francois, points out: But now, at your command are other weapons, my good Lord. Richelieu agrees: The pen is mightier than the sword… Take away the sword; States can be saved without it!
The saying quickly gained currency, says Susan Ratcliffe, associate editor of the Oxford Quotations Dictionaries. “By the 1840s it was a commonplace”. Today it is used in many languages, mostly translated from the English language. The French version is rendered: “La plume est plus forte que l’epee.”
The phrase actually means; those who control information have far more power than those with military might. However and essentially, it can be a delusion as well, as General Patton himself in WW2 proved. The idiom gives the perception that people are smart to begin with, a postulation that has been proven wrong countless times in history. To be even more frivolous we could say whoever has such a view obviously never encountered automatic weapons. Someone may think that he is smart, I control information, and therefore I control the people I govern! Could it be about mind control, a certain word or phrase injected at the right moment gets people to do what I say? May be some even exists on planet earth but not realise the realities of his world, and really exist in a parallel world? A realist would advocate that he controls the weapons, therefore might makes right! Hitler while the world was looking the other way invaded Poland and plunged the world into a devastating war. He thought his military might makes him invincible, no one could stop him but was stopped!
However, in such context, which is most obvious from the phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, those in the corridors of power, those who governs and are in authority, those who control the information that trickles down to the masses. The sometimes-subliminal messages through the mass media, TV, Radio and newspapers that the masses devour and digest each passing moment, have far more power than those with military powers. The false economy that educate us to believe that a trickle down economy is best, where the rich get richer, and the poor barely get by and exist on meagre offerings. The history books that misleads us, that tell their stories rather our stories, which are the true ones. Many of us will remember the wise words of our parents, “All we can do is hope that things gets better and the world changes”. Job advised, “So the poor have hope and injustice shuts its mouth” (Job 5: 16).
However, I say hope is not enough, not unless we hope with our action, by accessing the right information. We must do something, we have to act now and determine our own destiny, in order to make the changes that we seem to be dying for. We must glean the right information, don’t allow others to tell our story, tell our own story, send the right message, take the right road, the right path to empowerment. Only the right information, about who we are, where we are coming from and where we are going will empower us to make the changes in our world. That kind of information, the right ones my friends are indeed mightier than the sword.