A short book with a long lesson on the power of the written word is Address Unknown by Kressmann Taylor.
It takes less than an hour to read, yet the tale of a Jew in America masterminding the demise of a callous, indoctrinated, ex-beloved-friend turned Nazi, added years to my wisdom.
The American, Max Eisenstein, does it with letters.
The letters are short. They mean business. As soon as Max understands what his best friend has become, and suffers a heartbreaking loss because of it, the letters change, and the Nazi is doomed.
Inked words hold more power than weapons fired or triggers pulled. They march across posters and pages before the army or the dictator arrives. If they warn of impending genocide or atrocities, if they expose, the Big Boots squash them underfoot. The Big Boots have their own media releases to polish up.
An arsenal of words is cheap and effective.
The keyboard has little bombs and lethal accuracy within it. If you have a way with words, what you say will sway – opinions, hearts, minds, the jury.
It’s a sobering thought for drunken pens (and flying fingers on phones and laptops).
I find it easier to talk through a pen. My throat is often swollen and closed. In diverting what wants to be expressed, in sending the words and sentences down my arm, into my hand, out my pen, I channel in ink and, without a spoken word, speak.
The scratch of a pen on paper is not too loud. Talking on paper is quieter than a whisper, yet, when read, as loud and well-projected as an orator on stage.
Writing is safe and, in its silence, full of sound.
When I speak aloud, I am an irrigation system. The flow is directed through rigid pipes that lie buried in cultivated beds and gardens – say it, don’t spray it! When I write, I am the sea, a river, a waterfall, a muddy puddle, a green pool – the possibilities are endless, and I can spray it from a big, fat hose if I want to.
A contortionist twists and bends with a suppleness that defies logic, and a good writer does the same with words. The question has always been – am I a writer writing right words, or am I a writer writing wrong words; words that create wrong thought, wrong action, wrong hurt, wrong deeds, wrong history?
Answer without a word. Answer with the heart.
Love you always, always love you ~