on the permanence and importance of words


For over a hundred years now, we’ve been telling ourselves that the pen is mightier than the sword. And although it sometimes it seems that the sword is winning, ideologies and causes and words usually come before the sword. Which is why it’s so important that our words be words of truth and hope and love.

The solemn thoughts in the above quote are from In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner.

They're spoken by a father to his young, beloved daughter as they face the terrors of the Khmer Rouge. The father is talking about why he writes poetry; he’s hoping his daughter understands and feels his love.

She does—and she carries those words and that love with her through the horrors that follow.

Beautiful words need to be always at hand so that they become the language of thought— and anything that isn’t beautiful, lovely, praise worthy or of good report (to quote St Paul) becomes glaring in its inconsistency.

In the Shadow of the Banyan consumed me when travelling through Cambodia—it’s compelling reading under any circumstance. Half Spoon of Rice is a harrowing but hopeful picture book about the same events.

And here are a few other picture books you might like (we do!) about the power of words: