It baffles me how equation-solvers and machine-operators can still sneer at those whose words hold the power to control and shape the opinion of the world. Books of every genre and subject are written by capable writers who have good command of the language. You number-crunchers learned through books, through someone’s ability to convey their ideas through language. Reading material will always be there to fashion as well as influence thought, opinion and viewpoints of the entire humankind. It also has the ability to change them. It will always be regarded highly, and that is why, even though you learn the insides and workings of a machine, graphs of supply-and demand, the chemical bond of a drug, statues and bills, you will always end up having to encapsulate all that which you have learned into a thesis of some kind; an academic paper, in order to preserve that knowledge for the benefit of future generations. Does a thesis not require good language? What happens when you submit a poorly written one? The entire paper fails because the reader is not able to comprehend what you are trying, miserably, to communicate. And no matter how far you go in life, the person who is most well-read always has the upper hand, does he not? Whose writings have shaped his mind? Whose pen was responsible for widening his thought?
I’ll give you an example, no country in the world is perfect in its governance, and there will always be dissatisfaction among the people. What do you think makes the people so divided in their views? It is what they read, no matter how academic or non-academic, how truthful or deceitful the pieces of writing which they read are. That is why the burden of shaping good, sound thought, lies on the hand that holds the pen. They are the masters of the key to unlocking (and locking) the minds of the people. So far books (words) have set fire of love in the hearts, set big revolutions and wars into motion and sent small ripples into big waves and tides. To words belong the power of guidance, such is the role of holy revelations such as the Quran, and books of ideologies like the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. To words belong the power of social change; books such as 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell. To words belong the power of immortality; even though the writers themselves have died physically, their ideas still live on. Books are so powerful they are capable of rewriting history- like the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun. Books can inflict fear and be banned by people who recognize the ability of words in shaping the mind.
I am not saying that all of us majoring in Literature are going to be writing books that will change the world after we graduate. I mean, I hope we do. Or at least I do. But what I mean is, it is in our pockets. We are most likely to write something, and it doesn’t matter on what scale it is, when a reader sets his eyes on it, words are digested in his mind, and is bound to have an effect on him; it may be immediate, direct, clear or it might linger on until later, and even if he does not agree with the ideas of the writer, he would have at least gained something: “there is such thought that exists”, or that it would serve as some sort of extra knowledge that he would pull out for future use.
Yes, you may have invented incredible machinery that aid us in our daily lives, and you may even argue that the laptop I am using right now has been created and put together by some engineer. But give a writer a pen and some ink, or even some animal skin or a bark to write on, the word lives on.
It may also be good to note that most scholars i.e., students of the social sciences and even language are the ones that go on to become people of influence like politicians and speech-writers of the politicians. Again, the power of words. Transcribe them into written form, and it becomes a revolutionary book. How many will hop into your train of thought, how many a people will be moved by your words? Think Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler), The Prince (Machiavelli), Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela), The Audacity of Hope (Barack Obama), Gandhi’s books.. etc.
Note: ALL FIELDS ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT. I am in no way demeaning the other academic majors or dissing the importance of the jobs of other people, such as doctors and scientists etc as they find medicine to cure great illnesses and treat our wounded, but there will always be a supply of such workers, they will not run out, not at least in the near future. But writings that shape the world, that shape even the minds of doctors, of engineers and scientists; such supply is low, and we live in a time of dire need of good, sound, reliable, powerful writing.
No matter what you are studying right now, know that you are just as capable as the next person of changing the world. Just take good measure in learning how to effectively communicate your thoughts and you should be good to go and conquer the world… :)