Monday, May 20, 2024 | Dhu al-Qaadah 11, 1445 H
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The pen is mightier than the sword. Really!


By Ray Petersen — I’ll bet my cotton socks you haven’t heard of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who in his modest Victorian era play on the machinations of the ill-reputed Cardinal Richelieu, arch-villain of ‘The Three Musketeers in France during the 17th century, ‘Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy’.

However, as others have commented, Bulwer-Lytton, with one line assured himself of perpetual immortality by doing what few men have ever done, and written a single line that will never be forgotten.

“True, This! — Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword. Behold the arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! — but taking sorcery from the master-hand to paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike the loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword — States can be saved without it.”

Yes. “The pen is mightier than the sword,” has been penned, spoken, the subject of oratory discourse as often as any line in history, and lives on today in the thoughts and utterances of so many journalists, scholars, and somewhat embarrassingly at times, politicians. Even this immortal line was probably an adaptation of the writings 200 years earlier, of Abul Fazul Ibn Mubarak, personal scribe and vizier to Jalal Uddin Muhammad Akbar (Akbar the Great). Mubarak wrote of one having been “promoted from the pen to the sword and taken his place among those who join the sword to the pen, and are masters both of peace and war,” in a wordier and more elaborate statement.

In any case, the pen is widely seen as a very powerful tool for change. The media too, has the same influence on us today, and not just the potential to influence our lives, but an undeniable influence on our thinking, and opinions, which are what we are.

The pen, by extension, ‘mightier’ than the sword, and much more powerful than guns, planes, bullets and bombs, as the global media makes ‘hay’ from the current confused state of our world. Never mind that our planet is suffering from too little water and too much waste, to put it simply, but currently, even in the most settled and conservative parts of the world are being forced to re-assess our lives and priorities in the face of that paraded before us under the guise of news.

I may be a cynic, but I feel we are currently being manipulated into positions of fear by the global media, which is in the hands of far too few, and our actions become reactions not to what is happening, but what we are made to believe is happening in shades of the 1997 Bond film, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’, in which media mogul Elliot Carver is the villain.

Just look at the UK for example.

They are mired in the ‘will they or won’t they,’ Brexit question, with Teresa May calling an early election to defend her mandate in respect of that exit. Strangely, she has at the same time signalled a tougher tax regime for middle income earners. I’m so confused! A spoonful of sugar would have been much more effective wouldn’t it?

Meanwhile, Scots separatist Nicola Sturgeon threatens every man and their dog with the consequences of continuing with the EU exit. She must be laughing her socks off that she has an ‘issue’ to rail over, as just a few months ago she was ‘dead in the water,’ and looking finished. Now the gloves are off!

Threat, counter threat, the romance of the wonderfully dry, yet impeccably gregarious and welcoming Scots nature being turned into a bitter intractability as the spectre of Braveheart William Wallace is resurrected by, and in, Sturgeon. The blue and white face-paint is all that’s missing.

The other side of the coin is that the English are certain to take offence at being cast as the villain in the ‘fight,’ and with the ‘remoaners’ ulcerating the Brexit process, the establishment will fight back the only way it knows how, by refusing to bow to pressure, and invoking the Churchillian and Thatcherist dogmas of stubborn resistance.

Add in the incredible spectre of the Tony Blair vowing a return to the political scene, and the UK political scene looks as if it’s deteriorating into a farce that the ‘Yes Minister’ scriptwriters would have been proud of.

The reservations held over the Euro, and the EEC, were never meant to be manifest, but a constant reminder of the need for the UK to treasure and protect its own culture and identity within a free trading, common currency, freer borders, entity. It was never meant to be the ‘save us from the millions of migrants’ issue that the media made it. Now, having feasted on the insecurities that allowed them to create Brexit, the media creates a new ‘game’ to continue their banquet.

If you and I make mistakes, it is as if they are written in pen, and can’t be erased, we are stuck with them for life, but if the media backs a loser, they simply change the name of the game. Humph!


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