Essay No. 63:
The Pen Is Mighter Than The Sword: By the “pen,” we may understand all the fine arts, literature, painting, music, philosophy, all the peaceful arts which men have pride in. By the “sword”, we are to understand the art of war, the work that is done by soldiers and military leaders. We are asked to compare the two and say which is better. Is such a comparison possible? It is certainly difficult since the two do not work in competition with each other.
The work of great writers and philosophers is to elevate men. The fine arts raise the standards of civilisation, bring in finer ideals and nobler culture. Men like Shakespeare, Shelley, Dante, Goethe, and Iqbal are the pride of their countrymen. They are shining lights in the history of people.
But, one may ask, “Could these men have saved their nations in time of war? Are they greater than Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon and General Alexander?” Thus we have the argument that military arms are of more importance than fine arts, since, without the former, a nation might be destroyed by the forces of Might and Barbarism.
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It may be admitted that a great philosopher like Kant or a great physician like Lister could not resist aggression. The notable example which appears an exception is the Quaid-i-Azam for all will admit that he did more to secure the independence of India than any man of military skill. But he is such an outstanding exception that the advocates of military supremacy will insist that he is a great, indeed the only great exception, to the rule.
Are we to say that, because he beat Napoleon, Wellington is mightier than Shakespeare? The answer must be that we are trying to compare two classes which are not actually in competition with each other. They are complementary to each other: a nation without great artists would be a race of barbarians, and a nation without military defence would be destroyed in spite of many achievements of art and philosophy.
We do not ask whether food is better than a drink; both are vital and indispensable in the life of man. In the same way, the pen and the sword are two indispensable branches in the equipment of a nation, and comparison between them does not arise.
November 23, 2019