The Genius Of The Written Word
May 17, 2017
During history lessons in school, we learn that the earliest accounts of history we study today were verbal and that they only codified quite some time later. Epics such as The Iliad or the Ramayana fall into this category because within the obviously fictional accounts of kings, princes and wars are also details about the daily lives of people who lived thousands of years ago that are very valuable now.Why were these accounts written down?
Word of mouth is fun but it is highly inaccurate. No matter how hard we try to keep from deviating, oral transmission always ends up changed from speaker to speaker. The best evidence of this is the folk ballad. There are similar ballads all over a country but with certain lines, stanzas and characters changed to suit the local context. If you wanted something to be remembered authoritatively and flawlessly, then writing it down was the best thing to do. So instead of telling your crew the rules governing safety in your workspace, simply hand them a copy of your company’s safe work method statement that they can refer to for reliable information.
Human memory is hardly infallible and only stretches to certain limits. Therefore anything handed down orally is highly suspect. Writing it down preserves it as is for the future generations as well. If a company wishes to make safety a top priority in their work culture then they should add a electrical safe work method statement into its articles of incorporation because people will remember its original provisions better when they can refer to it anytime they want to refresh their memory. If the preservation of those rules were given to one or two people, the articles would not survive beyond a few months without much change. Remember Animal Farm? They wrote it down too and still faced extensive revisions.
When medicine men of the Amazon rainforest die without revealing their knowledge of the medicinal value of plants indigenous to the area, people mourn the loss of that knowledge because that knowledge was oral – and spans the length of a human life. If they do not pass it on it is lost when they die. Writing it down doesn’t just add to its authenticity and reliability, it also contributes to longevity. The stories of the great founders of the major religions of the modern world would have been lost long ago if the communities had not banded together to create tomes that would preserve that knowledge for the future. To this day, we look to the Bible, the Quran, the Torah, the Bagavad Gita and the Tripitaka for inspiration and uplifting.