Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The written word

The pen is mightier than the sword.

The creation of some form of this proverb dates back to 1571 in Europe.

It's probably in keeping with Johannes Gutenberg's printing press, which he created in 1450, the beginning of making the written word available to the masses in Western culture - although Chinese printers record the oldest dated example of their block printing in the Diamond Sutra, dating to 868.

The Diamond Sutra is also known as "The Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom of the Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion." It's a short Mahayana Sutra of the Perfection of Wisdom genre, which teaches the practice of the avoidance of abiding in extremes of mental attachment.

Of course, the point of the pen/sword concept is that people who are educated - people who can read and learn - are more capable of problem solving constructively, overcoming corruption, injustice and malevolence for the long term with intelligence and information than those whose only means of overpowering those who disagree with them is violence, cruelty and weaponry that harms or kills - a short-term "solution" at best.

History shows that the less educated the fighter, the more apt he or she is to rely on violence, torture and death as the weapon of choice. The long-range consequences are not evaluated, let alone considered because most violent acts are made as a knee-jerk reaction as opposed to a carefully planned long term solution.

Normally, people who use violence want to control the behavior and resources of whomever is their target.

To expand this premise - psychological abuse is also a violent means of controlling personal relationships and used by individuals and institutions such as business, religion, governments and even education. Manipulation, coercion, threats, physical punishments, "the silent treatment," and other abusive behaviors are common.

Again, it's all an effort for the abuser to try (desperately) to maintain control over others and their resources.

To come full circle: it is the ability to read and write that, according to our proverb, can prevent or stop this abuse because we can outsmart the corrupt, exploiters, degenerates and monsters.

As you read stories of war, of leaders who believe violence is the solution to any problem and of those who conduct barbaric acts in the name of God or an emotional blind allegiance rather than reason -- you may want to ask yourself if they are capable of being influenced by the pen (education, a reasoned approach), or if they are only vulnerable to being controlled through their emotions.

Interestingly, many leaders who push and plan violent acts are educated, but they count on their followers to be uneducated, bigoted, vengeful or in some way easily manipulated through their emotions.

Last, but not least, the point is that the sword's actions are instant, as are the results. But they only compound the problem with more violence, need for revenge, rage and other knee-jerk responses.

The actions and reasoned results from using the pen are meant to be constructive and everlasting.

Just like the proverb.


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