the power of small

badger“Four things on earth are small, yet they are exceedingly wise: the ants are a people without strength, yet they provide their food in the summer; the badgers are a people without power, yet they make their homes in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet all of them march in rank; the lizard can be grasped in the hand, yet it is found in kings’ palaces.”  Proverbs 30:24-28

There are plenty of proverbs (both Biblical and otherwise) that point out the strength both physical and mental of something apparently tiny and weak.  In many cases it is through working together as a team that they make their achievements, in some they work alone but the point is that the appearance is deceptive. Just because something looks weak or its challenge looks impossible doesn’t mean that it is.

We all have the same words, granted some people invent their own, Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll were particularly prolific word generators and there is hardly a family in the land that doesn’t have its own shorthand for even the most everyday items.  We, for example, put our dirty dishes in the washdisher.  But on the whole we communicate using a prescribed set of mutually understood words.  There is nothing special about our words.  They have no innate power to change.  But change they do.

It is when they are placed together in a certain way that they power behind them is intensified.

I tried to think of some novels that had changed me, made me behave differently or changed my views or way of thinking.  It was very hard, I could think of a plethora of novels that I love, that I read again and again.  But had they changed me?  I didn’t know.  Then it occurred to me that perhaps I was not meant to know.  If I knew then the change would have been more superficial.  For the change to be fundamental, to really change me then I would not notice the change for the change would be of me.

But what about novels that change not just individuals but whole nations?  Can there be such novels.  Of course, essays and non-fiction can and do.  From Mein Kampf to The Age of Uncertainty writers have set out to change individuals and nations.  But do novelists aim to do the same?  Or do we just want to tell a story?

 

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3 responses to “the power of small

  1. Uh, yes, and yes. I love that proverb, Gillian, it does champion the underdog in a very satisfying way!

  2. The novel that affected me the most when I read it was Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. So sad you could almost feel the desperation. Often think of it…

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