Saturday, 1 March 2008

The Power of the Pen

Dear Friends,

Some of you will know that this blog is helping me to realise my dream of becoming a writer. Words have always meant a great deal to me, from the moment I started reading, to the days spent penning compositions in Mrs Aziz's English class to the present day world of blogging.

I held some positions in BBGS, but none gave me as much satisfaction, or have proven as enduring as the position of Chief Editor of the School Magazine. Everytime I look at the apple-green copy of the 1987 annals, I feel a sense of accomplishment and gratefulness for having the opportunity at the age of 17, to produce something that has lasted all these years.

So many of you have written to tell me how much you've enjoyed this blog. This simply demonstrates the power of words. It has the ability to delight, cajole and inspire us. We are transported back to the age of innocence: when all that mattered were friendships and values.

I leave you with some beautiful thoughts on writing and eloquence. One is written by Alice Nah, a friend from KL, and the other is by Michael Gerson, a political editor from the Washington Post.

Kind regards,

Alice Nah - Blogger, Jan 30, 2008

Even if only a handful of people read what you write, you have connected with them. Even though it is painful, it is also an act of creation. Treasure your voice. Value your thoughts. Run through your memories. Make sense of your impressions. Writing helps you to think through what you have experienced. It is a form of meditation, a way of hearing the quiet voice in your heart, and of telling yourself what you observe in the world. Writing is a gesture of friendship to yourself and to others.

Michael Gerson - Washington Post, Feb 29, 2008

From the Greek beginnings of political rhetoric, the wise have described a relationship between the discipline of writing and the discipline of thought. The construction of serious speeches forces candidates (or presidents) to grapple with their own beliefs, even when they don't write every word themselves. If those convictions cannot be marshaled in the orderly battalions of formal rhetoric, they are probably incoherent.

The triumph of shoddy, thoughtless spontaneity is the death of rhetorical ambition. A memorable, well-crafted speech includes historical references that cultivate national memory and unity -- "Four score and seven years ago." It makes use of rhythm and repetition to build enthusiasm and commitment -- "I have a dream." And a great speech finds some way to rephrase the American creed, describing an absolute human equality not always evident to the human eye.

Civil rights leaders possessed few weapons but eloquence -- and their words hardly came cheap. Every president eventually needs the tools of rhetoric, to stiffen national resolve in difficult times or to honor the dead unfairly taken.

It is not a failure for Obama to understand and exercise this element of leadership; it is an advantage.

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