Perhaps like many of you my family made our way to the movie theater to see the final installment of the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings series. We were not disappointed. I am a long fan of J.R.R. Tolkien. A couple of years ago I sat at the table where Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would muse over manuscripts at the Eagle and Child in Oxford, England. Those who like to draw analogies from Christian life in the Tolkien works are not wrong. So I’d like to recommend the movie and draw some lessons from our Hobbit friend for 2015.
I like Hobbits. They are simple folk with the capacity to do exceedingly more than one would imagine. I hope to be like a Hobbit. In the Battle of the Five Armies, wise Gandalf looks at Bilbo and says, “You are a very fine fellow, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you. But you are really just a little fellow, in a wide world.” I think many of us feel like little fellows in a wide world. 2014 was a year filled with many injustices. From racial strife, immigration, human trafficking and predatory lending to multiple matters that did not make headlines but left people devastated. In such a vast world of injustice how can one person make a difference?
Lesson #1: Persevere – you never know what adventure lies just around the bend. Whether Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry or Pippin each persevered in the face of challenges. They could have stayed in the shire but they were willing to go to new places and try new things. Hobbits put one big foot in front of the other and don’t give up. Neither should we.
Lesson #2: Be a friend. Injustice dehumanizes people. An elf becomes an orc. Injustice twist what is good. When we fail to see people as people but judge them by race, status or any other label we perpetuate injustice. Want to pursue justice in 2015? Be a friend. Find someone of a different race, religion, ethnicity and befriend them. Bilbo was such a friend. Dwarves are very different. But Bilbo demonstrated great friendship and in his parting words to his Dwarven friends simply said, “If you ever pass through Bag End, tea is at four. You are welcome any time. Don’t bother knocking!” The world would be far more just if we learned to have tea (or coffee) together.
Lesson #3: Be humble. Hobbits are humble. They don’t want to make a great name for themselves. They don’t care about gold. They enjoy the simple things of life. They are loyal, friendly and have pure hearts. They alone could bear the weight of the ring without being completely consumed by its evil. A pure humble heart can stand against injustice because it cares not for itself but concerns itself with others. Bilbo was more concerned for Thorin, the Dwarven king, than he was for himself and his pure humility broke the hold of greed and power that threatened to consume Thorin. Thorin’s final words to his friend, “Farewell, Master Burglar. Go back to your books, your fireplace. Plant your trees, watch them grow. If more of us valued home above gold, it would be a merrier world.”
If more of us valued home above gold it would be a merrier and more just world. Greed and power lie at the heart of injustice. As Bilbo said to Thorin, “You’ve won the Mountain. Is that not enough?” Those consumed with power and greed never have enough. There is always reason to exploit others. And like Thorin we become blind to our own ambition until it consumes us. But not Hobbits. Hobbits understand joy and peace. They know contentment is not found in power or possessions but in simplicity and the love of others. So lets resolve to be more like Hobbits in 2015. As you work for justice will you do so in a way that perseveres, builds relationships and humbly serves others? Lets root our advocacy in 2015 in simple truths as we put one big (or little) foot in front of the other and
Go and Do Likewise.