Holding On to Tolkien
I am a nut. I admit it. My family will back me on this, too. What am I a nut about, you ask? I am obsessed with Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. I can’t stop reading his books. I can’t stop watching Peter Jackson’s rendition of The Lord of the Rings and Arthur Rankin Jr.’s rendition of The Hobbit. I named my son after the actor, Elijah Wood. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve read these books and opted to forego much needed sleep to read or watch the movies. Like I said, I’m a nut.
In the first few days after Japan’s 9.0 earthquake, there was continuous news on the devastation caused by the tsunami. My wife came home on the following Monday visibly upset. Her company has a distributor in Japan whose descriptions of the experience were scary. What wasn’t discussed was the radiation threat from damaged nuclear power plants. As the nuclear crisis grew, my wife became more upset.
We sent the kids outside, and then with tears, she said, “I don’t know how the world is going to make it,” she said quietly. “If we didn’t have kids and we wanted them, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t bring them into this world. I hate to say this, but it feels hopeless. If there is lots of money to be made at something, people just don’t care what it does to earth.”
It was then that I realized why I was so obsessed with Tolkien’s books and movies. There are many parallels between our challenges and the ones faced by people of Middle Earth. Many of Tolkien’s lines give me power over the same hopeless feelings my wife was having. Like Aragorn’s line to the boy Haleth who was about defend Helm’s Deep against Saruman’s army. Haleth says, “The men are saying we will not live out the night. They say that it is hopeless.” Aragorn intently examines the quality of Haleth’s sword. Then Aragorn puts his hand on the boy’s shoulder and looks him in the eyes, “There is always hope.” I hugged my wife and shared this line. She liked the hug, but could have done without the line.
Then, I shared my favorite line by Samwise Gamgee; Sam tells a battered and mentally defeated Frodo that they have to keep holding on and to keep going like the hero’s of great stories. Frodo asks, “What are we holding on to Sam?” Sam replies, “That there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” I felt like a big cheese quoting like this, but the next day, my wife told me that Sam’s line actually made her feel better. My Tolkien obsession paid off.
In the face of our environmental challenges, I am optimistic. I have faith in humanity. We are smart. When people say things like: “We need more nuclear power to meet our energy needs,” I know we can do better. No matter how safe we make a nuclear power plant, it still generates radioactive waste. Our government’s support of more nuclear energy basically mandates that we the people have to accept build-ups of radioactive waste. Let’s talk about mandates for greater energy efficiency and conservation. Let’s talk about mandates for installing solar panels on all sun-drenched residential and commercial rooftops. A starting point would be a building requirement that all new roofs with proper sun exposure be fitted with solar mounts. Let’s do better and let’s get drastic together.
Call me a dreamer, but I know too, that we can prevent pollution, landfill, and the loss of our natural habitats. I’ve learned from the Apollo space program and from astronauts I have spoken with, “impossible” is possible. Things that seem impossible are often made a reality when people work together. The movie, “I Am” does a great job at showing how humans have what it takes to overcome challenges because of our instinct to cooperate. It is this ability above others that has insured our survival, and it is this ability that can get us to where we want to go. I am proud that I dream about protecting Earth because dreams precede great accomplishments. We can protect Earth and there are good people in the world who care about our planet. Knowing this is worth holding on to.
Land Wilson, an advocate for environmental protection, is the author of “Sofia’s Dream.”
By Land Wilson (Author), Sue Cornelison (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-7
Hardcover: 19 pages
Publisher: Little Pickle Press LLC; 1st edition (November 24, 2010)
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