For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Lord of the Rings, Frodo Baggins, a hobbit of the Shire, undertook a quest to destroy the ring of power, forged by the dark Lord Sauron in the fires of Mount Doom. Along the way, the Fellowship of Frodo and his eight companions, is forced into the Mines of Moria. Lost in the labyrinth, with no apparent light at the end of the tunnel, Frodo lets out his frustration, “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened.”
Many of us today feel that same sense of hopelessness: here we were, the United States of America, in the position to elect our first female president, who would carry on President Obama’s legacy and policies to continue to shape America into a more inclusive place that strived for its ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, regardless of race, gender, color, religion, sexual orientation, or beliefs.
Yet, the power from the east, wielding fear, hate, anger, and distrust, proved too great a foe. So, here we are, stuck in a vast darkness, anxiety creeping up as inevitable injustices lurk like a pack of goblins waiting to swarm. How can we possibly move on? What was the point of everything Obama accomplished if it will all be wiped out and reversed in the next two years? How could Donald and his party, who stand for sexism, racism, discriminatory policies, and the perpetuation of inequality, win the 2016 election? I wish none of this had happened.
“So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Although written over 60 years ago, Tolkien’s wisdom, spoken by Gandalf to Frodo, sticks out the day after America let itself down. It speaks to the reason why each of us is here today. God has put us here to make a difference in this world: through the gift of life and the talents given to us, we have the opportunity to use every day to build a better country. We have been given the time to come together, listen, and act on our problems. Problems such as neglect for the urban poor who are trapped ghettos by continuous cycles of poverty; neglect for immigrants who seek the same chance at a new life the United States has given every family already here; neglect for those who are not valued as human beings created in God’s image.
Action doesn’t come from the national level; it starts with each of us getting involved in our respective communities. If you want the change started by President Obama to last, volunteer to serve those in need. If you want to see an America that is an all-inclusive place which does not “other” or isolate itself behind a wall, pursue it: write your Congressman/woman, attend city council meetings, voice your opinions, listen to your neighbors, welcome newcomers or those left out to social gatherings, be open to constructive criticism, and don’t exclude people based on lasting biases and prejudices.
If each of us makes a strong effort towards inclusivity and realize what it means to “love thy neighbor,” we can stand up against the bigoted force bred by our unwillingness to engage. This unwillingness hid our own “Ring of Power,” one that embodies racism, xenophobia, bigotry, sexism, dishonesty, distrust, and disrespect, until this election cycle. It’s time to look in the mirror and realize that we are self-righteous, broken, and cannot act on our own: we each other. Only then can we take up this ring and finish the journey to be rid of it, once and for all.