Philosophy by JRR Tolkien

I think I have talked before about our house fire several years ago and the outpouring of support by good friends we had and good friends we didn’t know we had yet.  It was literally a transformative experience for me.  Recently, a good friend related some experiences they had at Pennsic and of course there are other crazy experiences in the world.  What once seemed like a world getting safer has become a world that seems to be getting more dangerous.

Aside:  I read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings every summer for probably close to 11 years.  It is surprising what phrases of hope can be found in these books.  Recall, the world is one on the brink.  A great evil that was thought gone has resurfaced.  Also recall, JRR Tolkien had recently (when he started writing the LotR at least) come from WWI where some of the worst atrocities man has done to man had occurred.

I find some interesting insights in these books. In particular, these two quotes stick with me.

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. ” Gandalf to Galadriel.

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” Gandalf to Bilbo.

Aside:  Outside of the craziness of Pennsic and the SCA, another good friend who recently had a heart attack just told us that she will be fighting breast cancer now.

So what are we do with this world?  One where hate is not afraid to show its face?  One where friends thinking they are safe become another crime statistic?  One where the vagueries of fate and genetics can strike good people?

Again Tolkien gives us an example.  Frodo and Sam are at one of their lowest points.  They must get to the heart of evil to do their quest. They must get into Mordor but the way is barred.  They produce a vial of water that has captured the image of starlight.  Special water and special starlight to be sure but at its real essence just water and light.  It is their faith that this is enough.  That is, if they can believe it is enough then it is enough.

The other main example is Frodo and Sam themselves.  They are hobbits.  They are not particularly strong.  They are not particularly wise or skilled.  To some extent, they are not particularly brave.  Gandalf tells them as much.  I can’t find the exact quote but it was to the effect, “if you knew what you were getting into, you wouldn’t volunteer.” Yet they volunteer anyway and it is Sam’s devotion in pure friendship that ultimately saves the day.

We are small.  We might be afraid.  We might lack wealth or power.  But we can have faith.  We can have friendship.  We can give each other those small acts of kindness and love.  Be the light you wish to see in other.

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