Let me put it another way: when I was in high school my friends on the debate team were given the question, Is the pen mightier than the sword? And those things were defined pretty broadly. “The pen” was any form of communication while “the sword” was any kind of military power. I wasn’t on the debate team my friends liked to bounce ideas off me, even though I don’t think I was ever much help. On that particular question the best I could offer was that without the kind of organizational structure that “the pen” would provide any kind of large scale military operation would fall apart and even though I don’t think violence really can solve anything—unless your goal is more violence—words by themselves aren’t all that effective. And that’s why I was never in the debate club: with an abstract issue I usually took a nuanced view. I couldn’t come down firmly on one side or the other.
It’s a question that’s stayed with me, though. Because words, because art, can prompt action can we say that “the pen” is mightier than “the sword”? Perhaps, although we’ve also seen that words can be robbed of their power to be effective simply by being ignored, or dismissed, even when those words are powerfully delivered and backed up by facts. In the end, it seems, words only really have power if they appeal to those who wield the sword.