Reason and Words Over Violence


While reading the book “Scheherazade Goes West” by Fatema Mernissi, many ideas stood out to me.  One that I immediately found myself highlighting and remembering was, “They are a symbol of the triumph of reason over violence” (Mernissi 51).  This quote is powerful all by itself, but when we learn the story of Scheherazade through the words of Mernissi, it takes on an even deeper, more powerful importance.  Mernissi studies the story throughout her travels on her booktour and time in Europe.  She gains a view in which others have not had the chance to fully develop, which makes her conclusions all that more interesting.  She views Scheherazade as a strong, intelligent woman and someone that she admires for the way in which she accumulated knowledge and used it for good.


Many have heard of the story of The Thousand and One Nights where Scheherazade saved herself and her people from being killed by using her powerful, knowledgable mind to transform what could have been simple stories into suspensful, intelectually stimulating tales which ended up being the reason the king kept her alive.  She used the knowledge she had to change the way the king thought and she did this through her intense reasoning and passion for saving her people.  She knew the power of words to convey and solve what violence will never be able to.

Although many see Scheherazade in whatever (negative or positive) light their version of the story conveys of her, they would probably still agree that she had a way with words.  She used them to avoid conflict, as an alternative avenue to violence that made for a happy ending (depending on which story one reads).  But, what cannot be ruled out is that words in their own way, have a power that violence does not.  They have the power overcome violence in a peaceful route that is more to do with the psyche than any physical altercations.  Scheherazade obviously recognized this power when she volunteered to try to persuade and change the actions of the king.


Maybe we can all, in this over-violent world take notes from her.  We can again recognize the power of words, stories and the passion for knowledge to overcome conflicts in ways other than violence.  Violence is not the answer to conflict, especially when something as beautiful as language exists to estinguish conflict in a more effective and positive way in the long run.  Scheherezade is a person that we can all learn from.  We can use our words more effectively and knowledgeably each day and hopefully one day we can live in a more peaceful, less brutal world.


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