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The Pen: The Responsible Use of Our Weapon of Choice

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

Whether we want to admit it or not, writers have a great responsibility to their readers. Those who write and publish without understanding or caring about this, might as well drive drunk and let the bodies fly wherever they may.

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

Edward Bulwer-Lytton drove his point into our hearts when he wrote,

“The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold

The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —

But taking sorcery from the master-hand

To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike

The loud earth breathless!”

Have you analyzed your writing motives lately? Maybe you have no goal but to irk your readership. Thomas Hardy expressed, “'If you can't annoy somebody with what you write, I think there's little point in writing.” Or maybe you desire what Cicero said was to get at “the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives.” Then perhaps your combination of words is meant to strengthen the “hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.”

I ask you: doesn’t a writer’s work reflect the character of that artist? I believe it does. I have seen the fallout from the explosion of an artist’s words. Just a few sentences have the ability to both build and destroy, shock and please, even inspire and nullify.

The consequences of a writer’s musings may successfully strike the loud earth breathless, and he might sit back in his chair and put his feet up on the desk and smile at his cleverness. Whether he believes in a higher power or not, if his intent is to see how much damage he can inflict, I am certain whatever missile he launches will eventually turn around to seek out his heat, maybe explode in his face. Then when it’s too late, when and if he emerges from the rubble, maybe, just maybe, he’ll wish he had traded in his pen for a weapon less dangerous.

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