The written word is a powerful tool. It can bring about disaster or healing to the masses. Many authors have found that they can bring awareness to social issues through fictional literature. They used the written word and started revolutions.
Writing has always been a more permanent means of communication. It can be said once and carried forward indefinitely. One writing can be shared a million times over and thousands of miles away. That is why the written word has been powerful in changing societies and even history.
Impact on Society
Most societies have an abundance of writings. If there is a large percentage of literacy in the culture, there will be a plethora of books avaiable for those readers. That means that the writings can reach more people. The number of people influenced by those words is not limited as it was in societies where few could read and there were few books. So if you want to reach out to people and show them where there are issues society needs to improve on, look to books and other writings.
Let’s say that I see something horrible in today’s society that seems to go unnoticed by the majority around me including policy makers. It could be anything from environmental to human treatment. No matter what it is, I could stand on the street corner and talk about it. I could reach dozens of people, maybe hundreds depending on where I am. Those people might tell a few others, but even that would be diluted as hear-say. If the news crew showed up or someone filmed, it might spread further in today’s world. But the written word can go far and grab at people’s attention. It can leave the pages and reside in mouths and other means of communication.
Books get attention. Articles and pamphlets get attention. People read them and then talk about them. The words might not be quoted correctly by everyone, but it gets people looking at the issues as never before. As people talk, they start to research the issue. They start to talk, argue, and even act on it. The written word has been found to be effective in getting social issues addressed and the world to know they exist.
Social Issues Addressed
As I mentioned before, anything can be addressed in the written word. Any concern can be published in a fiction book, a non-fiction book, or even small flyers and get the attention of the masses. Let’s look at some that have been addressed in the past through books.
Dangerous Work Conditions — In the book, The Jungle, Upton Sinclair gets the attention of Americans by showing how horrible the working conditions in packing plants. Workers lost fingers, arms, and even lives. It also exposed the carelessness in the food preperation. Reading that book could gross you out as you realize what people were actually eating. It helped lead to OSHA and other regulatory agencies that protect consumers and workers.
Change Social Standing of People — A lady named Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a story about slaves in the Deep South. It showed bad slave owners, weak slave owners, and good ones. It showed how slavery hurt those enslaved and tore families apart. These people actually had feelings like everyone else! It stirred up anger from both sides as more people read the book and began to question the institution of slavery. Eventually, it was torn down and the slaves freed.
These are just a few things books have helped change in society. The written word has been powerful in changing society and still is as we are far from perfect.