Words are powerful.

Words are, as Albus Dumbledore says, ‘our most inexhaustible source of magic’.

And yet words are not always in written form. Words can be spoken, and some of the most notable changemakers use the power of the spoken word to great effect. Martin Luther King had a dream. Greta Thunberg told us that our house was on fire. Nelson Mandela said that “it is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Words and powerful. And persuasive. And they can change the world.

So why is Katniss Everdeen on the list? She is a fictional character. The Hunger Games didn’t change the world. Or did it?

In The Hunger Games trilogy (spoiler alert here), Katniss Everdeen is, through circumstance, cajoled into becoming a revolutionary and a figurehead for the rebels. Through her forced involvement in the barbaric ‘Hunger Games’, she became known as ‘the girl on fire’, and she is later used by the rebels to make propaganda films to spur on the Districts in their battle against President Snow and the all-powerful Capitol. The slogan “fire is catching, and if we burn, you burn with us” is instrumental is turning the tide against the violent dictatorship and eventually, bringing down the regime. So far, so fictional.

This is where it gets real.

The symbol of solidarity that was used in the Hunger Games books – a three fingered salute – was first used in Thailand in 2014 as a symbol of resistance after the military coup. It was later banned. But the use of the symbol has become widespread, as just a few months ago, the same salute was used by those resisting the military takeover and arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. The symbol is now divorced from the books and has a status of its own. It is no longer fictional. It is real.

Words are powerful. Speeches are powerful.

Novels, stories, poems, blogs, speeches, songs, journalistic articles, websites, podcasts, academic papers, non-fiction books. These are methods and mechanisms for sharing ideas. Platforms for sharing words. They can all – in various ways and at different times – change the world.

This is a call to changemakers.

Who are you? What do you want to change? How, for you, could the world be a better place?

This is a call to action.

It’s time to write some words.


Albus Dumbledore is Head Teacher at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and his words were created by J.K. Rowling.

Katniss Everdeen was created by Suzanne Collins. Watch her ‘fire is catching’ scene here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X236AeHt5RY