The forces of darkness are gathered but the light of the West is fading. The Elves are diminished, their numbers dwindling to the Gray Havens. The Dwarves have retreated into their caverns. And the Men have become corrupted, mere shadows of what they once were. But someone must bear the Ring to Amon Amarth and cast it into the depths of Sammath Naur.
The Lord of the Rings has never loosened its grip on the collective western imagination since it was first published. Its story of lost greatness, the corruption of the elite, the failure of the old great powers and the inevitable end of western civilization and cultures (as represented by the departure of the Elves and the ending of their powers in Middle Earth) is, if anything, more resonant now.
Almost lost within the grand scope of Tolkien’s back story, however, are the Hobbits and their comfortably materialistic middle-class existence. They serve as the reader’s entry point into Middle Earth. Of all of its peoples, the Hobbits are the weakest, the most vulnerable and the most human. Grounded, not overly imaginative, valuing the small comforts, they are also the ones who are most resistant to the allure of the Ring.
And the ones who made the greatest difference.
That to me is the secret of Tolkien’s success, that it is not the heroes and the wizards who ended the war, it is not some mighty weapon or power that overthrows Sauron. That finally, it was a person sized character who maintained their integrity that made the difference.
So, are you making a difference? Or are you just sitting around bearing it?