My name is Anthony Clay but I’ve used the online handle of Steel Accord in enough places that I believe it appropriate for this blog. It’s something of a mark of pride that it stands out on forums and online games where alphanumerics, often exploited to spell obscenities, are the norm. What does it mean though, exactly? It isn’t just two cool words put together to sound even cooler. It was the result of a creative process.
Growing up, I would often hear the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword.” From the beginning, the maxim really annoyed me. My mind conjured some sneering noble of wiry build sitting in front of a desk dismissing the noble knight and all his well earned skill and strength. Thinking himself mighty for the power of his position. My response to the speaker would be then to suppose a swordsman kicked down the noble’s door and held him at the end of the weapon, could the pen save him then? Even as I grew in body as well as mind, my disdain for this apparent truism did not wane.
Except now I could put faces to my nobleman figment. Some of my classmates in high school were committed pacifists, claiming that nothing was worth fighting for and couching their reassurances in systems and walls rather than in themselves. It frustrated me and not because I was some super athletic alpha male who would punch first and ask questions later but because I had my convictions and if push ever came to shove I would fight to defend them. It was high school, we’re all legends in our own minds then.
It was around this time that I started researching the Samurai, their history, weapons, and lifestyle. In this study, I discovered a simple phrase that served as a perfect rebuttal to my least favorite drop of non-wisdom. Without wishing to mangle the proper Japanese, I will simply say that the English translation would be “the pen and sword in accord.” The Samurai are rightfully remembered as warriors but as time went on and their status grew, they were expected to be highly educated and cultured. So, to them, a truer and better way to live was to be well rounded rather than have a crippling deficiency in a necessary skill.
This spoke to me in a powerful way. I did concede that one couldn’t solve every problem with brute force. Indeed, that some problems shouldn’t be resolved that way as it would lead to unnecessary injury or even death of people who didn’t deserve that response. At the same time, the specter of that sneering noble loomed in the back of my mind. Now he had a plan. To make the world fear and hate the knight as one who inflicted violence and no cause could justify that, meanwhile, the noble’s power only increased through his tyranny. He needed a response and here was mine.
The pen and sword in equal accord. Swords are made of steel, so, my portmanteau shorthand for this wisdom is Steel Accord. I write this and so much more through my study of words and the power they have. Power to inspire, to create, to instruct, and to persuade. Through the word of law, we have a society that grants us basic expectations of safety and freedom. Through our words, we have a voice in how our society should be run. I also physically train though. I train my body in ancient techniques and with modern machinery. Not to be an aggressor, not because I seek violence, but because I seek balance. For what are the pen and the sword but extensions of strength and wisdom?
After all, if you were a noble, deposed from his position by the poetic proselytizing of a well-spoken knight, and now nothing stood between you and him except a weapon that you’ve even never touched until now, wouldn’t you think it better to have spent even half as much time dealing with obstacles directly as you did remotely?