Friday, March 21, 2014


“The pen is mightier than the sword.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton

This quote ripped through my head today when I woke. I believe, sometimes, people forget how much this is true, and undermine its simple potency. Years ago, my Daddy told me that he sent a letter to Reagan before I was born. Though I cannot recall what the letter was about, I remember him using this very quote when he referred to it. He wrote to the president because he learned that he could, and fearlessly pursued that avenue with the strength of his pen and the might of his intellect. From time to time, he has told me that he wouldn’t have been able to find out many things (particularly about his intelligence) without the guidance and confidence of his GED teacher.

My Daddy shares more with me than half of his chromosomes. He shares with me his love for the written word. He is the smartest man that I know, and I’m not saying that just because I’m biased. I was not brought up that way. Check my record, if there exists one for character. He attended various colleges, where professors told him that he should pursue writing. For several reasons (including six children), he never went through with this, but he never would have been able to attend college without first obtaining his GED.

Another quote that he’s used since forever is, “Knowledge is power.” He told me that you go to college to learn how to think. He learned this, all right, and engraved in me the thirst and appreciation for words. When I became a work-study student at the school library, he told me to have respect for the job, because the road of knowledge goes straight through the library. Where did he learn all of this? At college. How did he get there? By obtaining his GED.

The GED breathed its first breath after World War II, to help introduce young men back into society who left during a time when they should have been in high school. Since its inception, the GED has done remarkable work. If anything, the true purpose of the GED program is to give someone a second chance, to right wrongs, to give a new outlook on the future for those who only see gloom and doom. My Daddy is of this number, as am I. What is the point of this future if we’re barred—and purposely discouraged—from embracing our love for the written word?

I write at work. I write at home. I write by hand. I write into a computer. I look at those who write on social media, and feel my gut wrenching each time I spot a typo. When I took the SAT, I felt like the world stopped spinning when the testers were assigned a small phrase to write in cursive... but didn’t even know the basic letters. The teacher wrote them on the board, and all I could think was, “What is wrong with this country? Doesn’t it realize how crippled it’s becoming by limiting such a chance at expression?”  

The world needs its writers, not only those who do so recreationally. The best thinkers ever to breathe on this planet could write. Notice how I say the word “could.” There are very few who think even half as deep as James Madison once did. Society frowns upon introverts like him, while all that his modern-day take wants to do is rant about something in a dark corner somewhere, saying he’s socially awkward, misunderstood. He lived by the pen, became the “Father of the Constitution” with his pen, and built this country up with his pen. The world frowns upon the GED, too, because “so-and-so said I can’t get into college with a GED.” Millions say otherwise.

I fear that ignorance (in many forms) is pulling us down further with each passing breath. I say we fight back. I say we take whatever form of knowledge we have and charge full speed into an intellectual future, not one where typos are accepted, cursive is rejected, and the love of the written word is neglected. Standing tall in this battle, I will wield the flag most high that says—stamped, bolded, in the center—GED, and I will not retreat. I refuse to adhere to the norm.

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