Lessons From: J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

How to resolve your inner struggles in life's hardships

Most people have either read the books or seen the movies, or at least heard of them if they haven't had the pleasure. Lord of the Rings is extremely influential and most fantasy either tries to imitate, or differentiate itself, from LOTR. For the sake of the message, we'll also be looking at parts from The Hobbit. I'll avoid spoilers and keep it simple.

A lot of people tend to complain about the simplistic good vs. evil take on morality that the series takes, either with Smaug or Sauron, who only seem to exist as a nuisance or threat to the world. You have humans, elves, dwarves, hobbits, and a few other creatures coexisting, but they cannot do so with orcs, goblins, and a few other foul creatures which roam Middle-earth.

Friendliness and fellowship is one of the most obvious topics Tolkien touched upon, but the way it plays into the story is very neat. Generally, whenever a character or species accepted another, like Bilbo the dwarves or the elves a dwarf in particular, something good arose. Whenever a character got greedy, it would either lead to a rupture in the group and greater difficulty, or in some cases even death. It's probably no mistake that fellowship is often set in conflict with the ring itself, probably as a way to contrast what truly matters with material value itself. This also leads to the value of being a good host. Tolkien's religious values probably had a lot to do with this, what with Christians generally proclaiming generosity as one of their values, and you can see this a lot of times, what with Bilbo throwing the banquet for the dwarves despite not even knowing them, the elves taking care of their prisoners and guests as if they were one of their own, or even a half-man half-beast who took care of Bilbo and company, and even a damn weird wizard-god who's probably as old as the world itself who gave the hobbits a nice surge of morale for the world ahead.

The value of courage, which has been explored in Plato's Virtues, is a recurring theme in the story. It's not just about a halfling finding the courage to take the ring into the heart of his enemy's empire, all while under the influence of dark magic that weakens him, but about men fighting temptation, rushing to each other's aid when needed despite the danger that they put themselves through, and even making friends with a member of another species which has been loathed by and loathed yours for practically the entirety of their existence. Practically the only woman character is one of the most courageous of them all, and it's pretty nice to be able to see this virtue in the most of the heroes. This leads to what's probably the most important value in LOTR: Hope. No matter how dire the situation the heroes were in, they always had to find a light inside their soul, or in the real world for that matter, which would pull them out. Even if they seemed ot run out of courage to rely on, it was hope that kept them going.

How can we apply this? 

These tend to be a little more abstract when it comes to using them. After all, you can't just tell someone to "be more courageous" and expect them to actually face their fears just like that, and you probably can't tell the greedy man to at least lighten up on his pursuit of wealth in lieu of companionship. You also can't exactly expect the world to be in black and white, especially when it comes to morality. 

The best thing I can say is probably to keep hoping. Generally when you feel that you can't keep going on in whatever it is you're doing, you have to remember that it gets better and you can generally have a network of people supporting you during your endeavor. I know it sounds generic but usually when you remember that, you can deal with the "how".

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