Behind the Curtain

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

The preceding words were penned by one Mr. Edward Bulwer-Lytton way back in 1839. They’re still routinely quoted, albeit in a much more trite context than they deserve, given the profundity of their meaning.

Think about it: No matter your religious affiliation, no matter which deity you worship, all of your belief systems began as words on a page. There are no Gods—there is only us.

Men wrote the Torah, the Bible and the Qur’an thousands of years ago, and readers of all three books still number in the billions. Long, bloody wars have been fought over each of these tomes. Fanatical adherents to the latter two, in particular, are still willing to kill to uphold their supremacy.

Words to live by, indeed. No wonder people think writers are pretentious. We are. Is it so unjustified, though?

Writers are the masters of your reality. The shapers of your perceptions. The deciders of what your opinions and beliefs are going to be.

If your brain is a computer, then words are the means by which it is programmed. They are the code that makes up who you are, and we are the coders.

We can make you laugh. We can make you cry. We can make you love. We can make you hate. We can incite the masses to violence, or steer them towards peace.

One day, in the not-too-distant future, AI will usurp our role as humanity’s silent, behind-the-curtain controllers, and you’ll never know the difference.

We will, of course. We’ll protest this changing of the guard with much weeping and gnashing of teeth until every last one of us has died, but our words will fall on deaf ears.

After we’re gone and forgotten, humanity will exist, for a time, in a state of blissful stagnation until a coronal mass ejection topples this precarious digital house of cards you’ve constructed and knocks you back to the Stone Age. Only then will you realize just how important we were.

Unless, of course, this planet is rendered uninhabitable before that happens.

I’m at peace with either scenario. I’m a writer. I’ve always known this story was going to end in tragedy.

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