Words are more powerful than the sword.
You seldom now hear the expression, from people when you ask how someone is. “I have no word of them,” Nowadays the usual answer is, “I have not heard.”
Once, the written word was the only way to communicate over distance.
Then came the penny post, available to all, and history of the thriving masses was written down. That is the pattern of local history into peoples’ private lives that so many people nowadays study.
Before it was all word of mouth and could be distorted over being told so many times. Once written on paper it is there, the same for all to see that are able to read. The written word is a powerful thing and someone famous once said it was more powerful than the sword.
Early on in history few people could read or write but with the coming of cheap postage, education became a necessity and government decreed that all should know their three R’s. School became compulsory to all and in the last two hundred years man has stepped forward quicker in time than at any other period in the age of life.
Now mobile phones have replaced paper and pen but the joy of reading a letter has not diminished and in my mind it never will. A letter looked after can be read over and over again, unlike a voice on a phone for a fleeting moment. The joy of looking at the words put together by someone long ago still holds that magic as when first penned. The words seem to catch the very essence of time and are more than likely to tell you the truth of how that person felt at the time of the ink drying. A single word written in a well-presented note says more than a sentence can. A letter sent home to a mother or loved one from father; son or daughter far away from home at war, work or travel, captures that moment in time. A love letter many years old can bring tears or laughter to you even if you were not the recipient. You can imagine the relief of a mother’s anxieties of news of her son in war in a far distant land to know he was safe at the time of writing. It was something tangible to hold onto.
The words written by woman or man are enjoyed the world over in books, some of these collections of pages will be seen by generations long after the person that wrote the words has died, but still the message is the same. Words are more powerful than the sword.
“Rye’s Own” November 2011
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