Monday April 22, 2024

The power of the pen

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
August 10, 2018

Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, who belonged to the city of Athens, is credited as the founder of philosophy. It is quite unfortunate that a great philosopher such as him was sentenced to death, almost over two centuries ago.

Isn’t it surprising that while Socrates’ name remains alive even after thousands of years, the names of those who sentenced him to death are lost somewhere in history? Socrates’ student Plato played a pivotal role in this regard by documenting the former’s philosophy through his pen.

Similarly, the names of Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Chanakya and many other philosophers are still alive because of their teachings that were preserved in the written form. Shakespeare enjoyed the status of a great dramatist and author because of his pen. If people honour great scientists like Newton and Einstein it is because of the power of their pen.

God’s command has also been made available as a guideline for human beings in the form of sacred religious books. The historical agreement of peace, the Charter of Medina, was also drawn up in the written form. The purpose of mentioning these examples is to emphasise how powerful the pen is. It has been successfully used to preserve the world’s history to inform us about the events that had taken place hundreds of years ago, even before the existence of human civilisation. We cannot transfer our cultural traditions, religious teachings, moral values and services of our national heroes to the next generation without using the pen.

In ancient times, the sword was used to impose authority on people. Today, the same mindset is reflected in the race to acquire deadly weapons to undermine opponents. Such elements forget that abuse of power can only pressurise the poor for the time being, but in the absence of moral support, such repression has to end.

We have examples of various cruel and powerful dynasties of the past, but today, their descendants are reluctant to relate themselves to their forefathers because of their negative achievements. Human nature gets more influenced by soft and humble ways. Irrespective of geographical locations, all renowned reformers adopted softness, tolerance and consistency to spread their message of love throughout the world. They proved that with the proper use of the pen, positive change can be brought in society. However, this change is conditional to expressing the truth and reality.

Extensive use of the pen could also be observed during freedom movements of all times against imperialists. Peace-loving poets, writers and scholars motivated people through their writings and became a ray of hope for oppressed nations.

To end the British rule, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah also believed in the adage that the pen is much mightier than the sword. Allama Iqbal’s remarkable poetry also played a key role in motivating people and reinforcing the Independence Movement. Similarly, many legendary freedom fighters like Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Hasrat Mohani and Bhagat Singh kept the fire of the freedom struggle burning through their writings.

Before the recently concluded elections, all political parties presented their manifestos in the written form. As a senior parliamentarian, I also observed that various issues are discussed on the floor of parliament, but issues that are reported on by our journalist friends sitting in the press gallery receive wider attention. Any news published in a newspaper proves to be more effective in solving public issues; a simple application written on a white paper ensures justice in a better way.

The use of the pen in exposing the corruption of the world’s elite through the Panama Papers was eye-opening. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who had won with a two-third majority, was also disqualified through the court’s written orders.

Now, when the PTI, led by Imran Khan, is in a position to form the government, we must understand the importance of using the pen positively to promote education, health and foreign policy on a priority basis. People have shown historical confidence in the PTI candidates on the basis of the party’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ slogan. A positive change must be seen in every field of life to ensure the placement of the right person in the right place. All those appointed must be aware of how to use their pen efficiently and effectively.

We need to convince all democratic powers that politics of contention will bring nothing, and that only through the use of the pen will we be able to achieve peace, prosperity and progress. This is also the only way to discourage dynastic politics and curb corruption; which is, in fact, a curse on the entire democratic set-up.

The writer is patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani