Monday, December 24, 2012

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay... small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps it is because I am afraid and it gives me courage.”

Lay aside for a moment all of the fan-boy concerns, the literary purist complaints, and the tech-geek scoffing. At the heart of Peter Jackson’s latest is the story Tolkien wrote, and that story is full of timeless truth and inspirational example. For me, at least, this is one of those stories that defeats all of my attempts at cynicism. The fact is that I believe the same things that Tolkien was promoting in his stories.

When Gandalf is asked why he chose the silly little hobbit as a companion on the demanding, dangerous quest that they are on, he responds with the quote above. This is the truth that lies at the core of all Tolkien’s stories. He really believed that ordinary, common lives have a huge impact on world events. That our choices, actions and inactions make a difference.

One of the best moments in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” comes near the end, when Bilbo has the chance to kill the disgusting, scary, and evil Gollum. He instead has compassion on the wretch. Perhaps he is thinking in that moment of something Gandalf told him when he gave him his sword, “True courage comes not from knowing when to take a life, but from knowing when to spare one.” This decision will continue to play out for decades to come and ultimately, will save the entire world.

And that is the message that I take from this story. My choices, the actions I take and the things I abstain from, make a difference.

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