Living in prison could be a consequence for those who struggle for a better change of life. That is what history recorded. A lot of literary works were born from the musty and dark prison. They thrived from the nature of revolution. A number of famous world leaders have proved that dark and small place can’t restrict their thought and limit their space of freedom. Although their physics were isolated, their soul and thought were free. They lived for their people. They tried to survive to share their idea. They gave hope. They were there—to battle.
We have Soekarno, our former president, who wrote “Indonesia Menggugat”. He was put into the jail for his sharpness of tongue toward the Dutch colonizers. We also have Pramoedya Ananta Toer, from his phenomenal tetralogy, “Tetralogi Pulau Buru”. He was in prison for his sharp criticism in his novels. He didn’t stay silent looking at his country lead by tyrannical regime. In other side of the world, we know Ibnu Taimiyah, a Muslim leader figure whose words are eternally recorded in history. Damascus city was the witness of his hard struggle. In that period, the king forbade him to have pens, papers, and ink since the people knew that the words born from his fingers were like a sharp sword that could kill the dictatorship. Consequently, he had his students throw the charcoal—instead of a pen—into the prison, so he can keep his hand moving. The same tragic but awesome story experienced by Sayyid Quthb, a scientist, a poet, and an Islamic thinker from Egypt. Prison encouraged him to write beautiful pieces of his life experiences with the Koran. What the leaders did was nothing but one purpose: they fight against the unpleasant condition due to the occupation, from the unpleasant place due to the imprisonment.
“From darkness for the darkness”, it might be the right expression to describe the authors. They wrote their best from the narrow and dark prison to overcome the darkness of their people’s life, the life surrounded by the imperialists, the life that was full of misery, the life that forced them to fight for independence. They gave their opinion to enlighten people outside. Never think that darkness is only about the place that has no light, rather, it’s the condition where the tyranny exists, it’s the condition where we can’t claim our right to have a proper life. Poverty, ignorance, stupidity, and tyranny are the darkness that we should eradicate.
Then, a big question might appear, “Should we be in prison first to show our best work?” Off course not. Writing shouldn’t be started from the dark place like prison. When we see something wrong with our environment, we might say that it is part of the darkness that we should eliminate. However, in some cases, history records that somehow sword can’t answer the restlessness of the people. “The pen is mightier than the sword”, a metonymic adage coined by an English author, Edward Bulwer Lytton, in 1839 for his play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, is relevant with our current condition.
True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!
See how the authors in prison can inspire million of people outside. See how the works created in a dark place can give enlightenment. And see, how the words can ruin the tyranny (*)