Lord of the Rings: Power Can Corrupt the Best

‘You are wise and fearless and fair, Lady Galadriel,’ said Frodo. ‘I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me.’

Galadriel laughed with a sudden and clear laugh. ‘Wise the Lady Galadriel may be,” she said, ‘yet here she has met her match in courtesy. Gently are you revenged for my testing of your heart at our first meeting. You begin to see with a keen eye. I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer. For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! it was brought within my grasp. The evil that was devised long ago works on in many ways, whether Sauron himself stands of falls. Would not that have been a noble deed to set to the credit of the Ring, if I had taken it by force or fear from my guest?

‘And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun, and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth! All shall love me and despair!’

She lifted her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illuminated her alone and left all else dark. She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful. Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad. –Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring

Yet amazingly, Galadriel says no to the power offered her. You would be hard pressed to find many with control these days giving up that opportunity. But what Galadriel realizes, is that none can properly wield the power of force. Even almost god-like creatures would be hard pressed to keep the power under their control. It will corrupt all those who wield it.

And the evil of the ring will last, even if Sauron does not. The evil that is created by growing the power of force will live on, whoever sits upon the throne. The person wielding the power may very well be evil, but the power itself is at the root of the evil. Always will there be someone next in line to step up and take control.

At first, surely Lady Galadriel would use the Ring for good, and vanquish the evil that once flourished with the Ring. But soon a new evil would rise, because problems will inevitably rear their heads. Without ultimate power, these problems would be solved in a way where all parties agree. But with the power of force, the temptation would be too large to force all those to bend to your will.

As noble as her first intentions may be, solving problems with force would not yield peace in the long run. With the power of the ring, the elves could have stayed in middle earth, and forced all others to stay out of “their realm”. But Galadriel passes on the power, and eventually the elves decide to leave middle earth, because their time has passed.

Do you think someone running for office would behave as Galadriel, and pass up the Ring? Of course not, they are seeking the Ring, and we choose to give it to them! Just like Frodo, we are afraid of the power, and feel helpless. But unlike Frodo, the ones to whom we offer the Ring gladly take it: some start with good intentions, some know they are evil from the beginning.

But like Frodo, we must seek only to destroy the Ring, as tempting as handing it off may be. It is a dangerous task, one that will take us to the depths of Mordor where evil will surround us, and seek to destroy us before we can destroy the power of force. But it is still in our power to do so.

Frodo was lucky, first Gandalf, and then Galadriel deny the Ring when offered to them by Frodo. We will find no such saints. We have the power to destroy the Ring, by offering it to no one, by refusing to be ruled, and by shrugging the yolk of authority from our shoulders.

We want to find a good ruler, but how can we expect to do so when even Gandalf and Galadriel do not trust themselves with power? They understand that they cannot free Frodo, he must do so himself. We cannot expect to be freed by a leader of government, by someone who will wield the Ring for good; none can! Instead we must walk ourselves to the mountain, and caste the Ring in the fire from which it was forged.

Philosophically we must be ready to rule ourselves. It will be a struggle akin to Frodo’s journey to the mountain. We will want to give up, we will be tempted to give power to those we see as good, not wanting the responsibility of self governance. But if we persevere, we can and will destroy the power of force, and live in peace and equality.

We must become 7 billion sovereign citizens by destroying the idea that is it right to be ruled. None can wield the Ring for good, none can govern better than a man can govern himself. We must take control of our own lives, we must take personal responsibility, stop looking for a savior, and be the change we want to see in the world.

One thought on “Lord of the Rings: Power Can Corrupt the Best

  1. Pingback: Lord of the Rings: Right and Wrong Don’t Change Because of Strange Times | Joe Jarvis

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