Ideas are More Powerful than Guns
Ideas are more powerful than guns is a point of departure that is much similar to the saying that ‘pen is mightier than sword’. Although this phrase together with Stalin’s quote that ‘Ideas are more powerful than guns’ may sound like an out-of-date cliché in the contemporary societies, their rationality cannot be disregarded even in the advent of today’s context of different mass media. This basically means that a person can be able to influence more people on a larger scale whereas guns and swords can only force people to behave in a certain way but cannot change individual opinions.
Ideas are more powerful as they can transcend vastly through the exercise of free speech on the media such as the internet and radio as well as television talk shows where citizens are able to discourse their concerns about things that are happening around them, the government performances, and legislative processes that are perceived as usurping the rights of citizens to defend themselves. It is easier for a person who is educated to influence people than an uneducated person with who uses force (Tyson 2).
Ideas can change the world easily than guns or any amount of force. It is unfortunate that some people do not seem to acknowledge this fact but those who write and read know the power of words. In order to understand better, it is worth noting that all forms of physical violence begin and end in communication. At the very basic level such as violence in youth is triggered by a single person when such person feels that another person or a group of persons are verbally disrespecting him or her. For every single person suffering physical violence hundreds of thousands of others are suffering the consequences of verbal abuse and violence.
There exist major differences between physical and verbal violence. For instance, physical violence is usually apparent because it leaves visible effects. On the other hand, verbal violence except in such circumstances as courtrooms there are no forums that one can seek redress having been verbally violated. The pain caused by gun only lasts a few minutes, hours, or days but the pain caused by verbal violence goes deep and festers for a long period of time.
Words have the ability to hurt and heal. Ideas such as the one advanced by Martin Luther King Jr. when he said “I have a dream” can be recognized every time a person hears them. One is also able to recognize the person who said them even though such a person may be long dead. Such words can also be used for decades to come to explain a multiplicity of phenomena and to influence generations upon generations. This aspect cannot be said of guns. New types of guns are produced every now and then to replace the existing ones.
Communication of ideas plays a major role in human affairs. Among its roles include providing a tool for cooperation and conflict. With words, people can solve problems, create problems and social confusion, erect a tower of poetry and soaring structures of science. Accordingly, through words, people can create ideas, theories, images, and cultures for every person. It is also through words that people are able to improve their own humanities and create bonds that ultimately create communities. When people do not talk, a very crucial aspect of community is violated and people are not able to learn from one another. As such, lack of communication leads to ignorance which in turn lead to misunderstandings which eventually lead to violence. It is through communications that ideas are nurtured regarding the creation of various tools including guns. As such an idea comes first before guns and violence hence without ideas there would be no guns to fight with. Further it is through words and ideas that people commit acts of violence. As such, ideas have tremendous power.
When people communicate ideas there is usually more than a life at stake. Ideas form the basis of every invention and everything that encompass life. As such, it is of great importance to encourage ideas and exchange of ideas while at the same time encouraging individuals to watch what they say. This is premised on the fact that most wars in history began from an idea which was communicated as propaganda which in due course led to violence and full-blown wars (Head 215). Take for instance the World War I and World War II which were fueled by propaganda from various participants. Propaganda in the World War I was used to ensure that people only knew what their respective governments wanted them to know there concealing the truth. Such propaganda was very effective as citizens responded by abhorring other nations that were considered enemies. For this strategy to work, governments had to control all sources of information and all forms of information.
Alexander the Great, realizing that he his army had been overwhelmed and forced to retreat and realizing that it would be a detriment if the adversary knew that he was weak came up with an idea of intimidating and the opposing army. He achieved this by making oversized helmets and armor left them at the battlefield. The opposing army feared approaching believing that the big armors and helmets were giants. This enabled his army to retreat. This shows that his idea and not guns saved Alexander the Great and his army.
A more recent scenario where ideas are transformed into propaganda is the war in Iraq. The United States government, armed with an idea of attacking Iraq for ulterior motives, fuelled propaganda to the effect that Iraq was assembling nuclear weapons. Accordingly, it is the journalists within the military units that report on the progress. Such journalists only report what is favorable to their military. This is usually done in a bid to bolster as much support as possible back home. With regard to the foregoing, there is no doubt that words are powerful than guns.
Tyson, Ann Scott. “Hearts, Minds, Leaflets: War’s Psychological side” The Christian Science
Monitor, 95 (45) 2003, p2
Head, Richard and Despard Edwards. War on the Mind: The Military Uses and Abuses of
Psychology. Foreign Affairs, 57(1) 1978, p. 215.