Friday Thoughts: Tolkien and War

Good morning! We made it to another weekend! Unless you work on the weekend then I wish you much strength and courage.

On my commute, I have been reading Lord of the Rings. I am happy to say that in six hours worth of riding the train, I have finished The Fellowship of the Ring.

It has been many years since I last read these three books and I am disappointed in myself for this. However, the long wait is over and I am much better for it. I once again walked through the Shire, saw the beauty of Elrond’s home, and felt the terror of the Nine Riders. In the recent news of attacks in England, disappearances of children from around the city, and the poor representation of “heroes” in the world, it is good to have some wholesome things to read.

I have noticed that in the movies, no one quite puts enough weight on the numbers killed. Regardless whether the hero slew them or the villain. In DC’s Man of Steel, an entire city was destroyed but no one mentioned it. Going further back, every single Transformer movie. No one notes it. More recently, in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 2, Yondu is seen killing an entire crew of a ship and enjoying it.

And the audience laughed.

It was disturbing to hear people enjoying one man and a garbage panda kill hundreds of men. Without warning. Without mercy. Perhaps it was justice because they killed his entire crew. Perhaps it is because Yondu has a black soul*. But was it necessary? Was it needed?

In Tolkien’s story, either the characters note the number of dead. Or the narrator does. From the number of men killed in the defense of Gondor to the number of Urak-Hai slain for control of Helm’s Deep, you can see the cost of war. You can also see why the war was fought. Or why the hero had to fight.

I think that is something we are in danger of losing. That we forget just how horrible war is because of the gory movies we watch or how easy the “hero” takes to killing the enemy. Or why some battles must be fought or why some battles are not worth the fight.

But that is just me. Maybe I am a strange individual who believes in fighting but at the same time wishes to avoid it. Maybe I am strange for wanting to be like Faramir: a warrior and a scholar. But then again, these are my thoughts.

In light of this, I will leave you with this question:

If you fight all the time, are you able to know when you must fight?

*Disclaimer: when I use the word “black” I mean in relations to evil deeds.

Humanity

Click-clack click-clack

Metal wheels roll across metal rails

Click-clack click-clack

The train rolls through the city

It rattles and rolls

The people sway as the train speeds

Around bends and down hills

Some stare out of dirty Windows

Their minds on work or far away

Others play on their phone

Or listen to the latest song or news

Still others lean and sleep

Click-clack click-clack

The wheels grind away

Click-clack click-clack

Horns sing and gears screech

The train passes another just like it

Filled with people of different sorts

Some are dressed to impress
Others are dressed for heavy labor

Children laugh as they go to school

Business men and women prepare

For meetings and reports

Click-clack click-clack

The train goes on

Click-clack click-clack

Humanity going about its day

The father going to his second job

The daughter on her first day

The mother returning home

The teens skipping school

The college student on her interview

Click-clack click-clack

The train carries them all

The Coffee Shop

Hot drinks

Lots of talks

Music thudding

Laughter ringing

Friends hugging

Strangers greeting

No stranger here

No outsider here

Traffic fought

Coffee bought

Bankers and teachers

Students and workers

In and out fast
Half past

The clock chimes

And the shop empties

Music still plays

And the people still talk

But now a silence descends

And the people whisper

Smiling rather than laughing

Hush tones instead of loud voices

Still the barristers call out names

Still the greetings are said

But with a quiet air

A writer works hard about an artist

While she sketches his face

A student studies

And a mother reads

The clock chimes

And in comes the rush

Listening

Sitting at the mall,
Listening to the people.
Their voices fill the air with babble like a river.
Their steps shake the ground,
tremors rising and falling with each passing person.
Here and there a voice rises above the rest
But it is soon lost among the chatter.
Thoughts and words tumble through the air,
A din of conversation that strangles the silence.
The more I listen, the louder the voices.
Yet in all this noise,
All these people,
I am alone.

Respect

With everything that is going on, from the trouble on Korean soil to the fires forming in American cities, it is easy to pick a side and tear into the opposing sides.

As much as I value the ability to voice one’s opinions and holding true to one’s beliefs, it cannot be done with disrespect from the start. Which brings me to the title of this post: respect.

We seem, as a single race, have lost that regard.

Everyone deserves a measure of respect, default respect if you will. They are fellow humans with their own damages, history, pain, and success. In addition, some have some position of authority or status within a society and therefore have positional respect. Examples, the doctor, the mother, or security officer. Not to say those without position are to be treated lower, they still have the respect given as fellow humans.

But at the same time, greater respect must be earned. If I am a king who kicks a child, then I lose what respect my position gained me and as a human. If I am a poor man who rushes into the water to save a drowning mother, then I have earned respect. I like to call this action respect. Physical actions, not just words, of how one treats others.

In addition to the default, position, and action respects, there is something very important to consider: individuals versus groups. A group may have a theme or a tendency but to mark all by the same paint of brush is fool hardy. Humanity is made up of vast and dynamic people. Even within a single family of four can you find diverse personalities.

And with everything, there can be a few good apples in a basket of bad ones and bad apples in a good basket. Yes, if there is a bad group, be on your guard but if someone shows the potential not to follow that crowd, then greet them and a be a positive influence.

Maybe these are the ravings of an individual  who wishes to see the world as it is not nor it can never be. I can still walk this world as the basis of my life.

Being Smart

A few days ago I went to get a haircut because my hair resembled a bush which has gone wild and taking over my head.

So off I went to get it pruned and trimmed back.

While I was at the hair cut shop, I was talking to the hair stylist. She asked me if I was going to college and I said yes.

Then she replied “I’m not smart enough for college”.

And that, my friend, bothers me a great deal. This young woman who could get my hair to calm down and understands how hair act said she wasn’t smart. And it is not true. Each of us,in our own way, has intelligence and talents.

If you ask a physicist to help a graphic designer create a poster, the physicist would struggle and create some poor designs. Is the physicist dumb? No. The physicist has not been trained or have talent in that particular field.

Now reverse it. What if the graphic designer was asked to solve an equation to get a rocket to Mars? The designer would be lost in the first steps. Is the designer dumb? No. The designer just has a different set of skills.

So the next time you call someone dumb, think about it. And what you are saying to that person. Each of us has skills and talents that others do not.

And if you get called dumb– reject it.

Ignore it and remember your skills.

It is a struggle. For myself, it has taken almost a decade to realize that I have moved beyond the status of an amateur photography and I am well on my way to becoming a practician.