‘True hearted men, they will not be corrupted. We of Minas Tirith have been staunch through long years of trial. We do not desire the power of wizard-lords, only strength to defend ourselves, strength in a just cause. And behold! in our need chance brings to light the Ring of Power. It is a gift, I say; a gift to the foes of Mordor. It is mad not to use it, to use the power of the enemy against him…’
‘And they tell us to throw it away!’ he cried. ‘I do not say destroy it. That might be well if reason could show any hope of doing so. It does not.’ Boromir, Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Rings
Essentially Boromir is saying that all we need is the right people in positions of power, and everything will be fine. But he leaves out the important part about how we will make sure only good men are in positions of power, especially when power attracts the worst type of men.
Boromir’s folly is that he trusts men, even himself, with power. And how tempting it can be! If I was dictator of earth right now, I could create a paradise! But would I? Reason suggests such is impossible. As noble as I know myself to be, I cannot predict what that sort of power would do to me. Would I, would anyone, really be able to give up that type of power of force? Slowly the control would take over, and we would make excuses for ourselves as to why we needed to continue our rule. Just around the corner would always be the goal that if reached, surely we would give it up!
What I love is that Boromir admits that destroying the ring would be the best option, but that it is impossible to do so. I often hear people tell me that anarchy sounds good in theory, but reason shows no hope of attaining such freedom. So instead, they say, agreeing with Boromir, we must wield power in order to eradicate the world of evil… and then maybe we can destroy the ring.
This is sort of the same thing the communists said. We don’t want to keep the power once there is a dictatorship, we just need to eliminate the evil exploiters of the proletariat, and then control will be abolished, and everyone will live on in peace and equality forever. But people like Lenin and Stalin never destroyed the ring, they kept in and wielded it for either, just as all had before them.
Boromir is noble, yet before the first book is over he has attempted to take the Ring of Power from Frodo by force. Its allure is too strong for him. Even though he truly desires the Ring to protect Gondor and Middle Earth from Mordor, even outside his possession the Ring manifests evil through him. He was willing to steal from Frodo, to violently rob him at least, in order to gain power, the power of force.
As treacherous and unattainable as it may seem to destroy the Ring, it is the only option for lasting good to reign. If any remnant of legitimized force remains, then it is only a matter of time until Sauron rises again. This is why any bit of government that exists will eventually grow itself into evil that dominates all it touches.
We must start from the position that force is never okay, but only agreement and mutual benefit. Never can a peaceful individual who has harmed no one be deprived of his labour, life, or freedom. It must be recognized that anyone who inflicts such damage on him, even under the guise of government, through taxes, or “the greater good”, must be punished accordingly based on his transgression.
Destroy the Ring, destroy the power of force, for it is the only option if we are to hence forth recognize any aggression as wrong. No “necessary” evil, no brutal force to make the trains run on time, no local authority with the power of force, under the excuse that it is too small to ever become evil.
Force itself is evil, and it must never be given an excuse, or a disguise in the form of government.