Since the ancient Sumerians chiseled cuneiform into stone, the printed word has provided us with wisdom, inspiration and escape. Each week in this Ferre Me series, Wisdom of the Pages, we’ll see what inspiration literature’s golden passages have to offer.
Author’s note: I didn’t plan to begin with Lord of the Rings but, after watching the tragedy in Manchester unfold, these words brought me a measure of comfort, as I hope they do you.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and 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 us.”
— The Fellowship of the Ring (emphasis mine)
Another attack. Children gone from the earth, hearts shattered. War rages, and none of us knows the rules. We press on – as we should – working, studying, playing, raising babies, mowing lawns, but we wonder. We keep our collective heads high, but we can’t help worrying when or where.
I guess that’s why they call it terrorism.
I watched the barrage of tweets pour down. Anger, anguish, panic, blame – what can we do in the face of a hatred so strong it compels a human soul to kill children?
Despair and defeat, they seem like the next steps, a natural spiral in a world gone mad. Message after message…sister missing, please help…stupid liberals!…we all know what this is, we don’t need to wait for the news.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time.”
Frodo utters the despair we’ve all felt in our hearts. Why me? Why now? We ask questions that have no answer – or no answer that helps. How could they kill children? When did my sister become addicted? Why did my father get cancer?
If we try hard enough, can’t we just wish it away? Can’t we just wish none of this ever 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 us.”
On Monday night, the people of Manchester decided. They embraced terrified children and ushered them into the safety of local hotels. They opened their homes to strangers stranded in a city of panic. Lightening quick they acted, using hashtags to rally in the face of danger, fear and hate. They helped, comforted and loved when we all know it would be so much easier to bolt the doors and wait it out.
Even as my heart breaks for those lost, injured and grieving, it swells with pride for my fellow humans who decided.
There is hate in the world. This we know. It will always be there, though its forms will vary. The good news is, the rest of us? The ones on the other side who will lift up and fight back and love and pray? We outnumber them – and we’re not afraid to decide.
This bodes well for Frodo, and it bodes well for us.
My prayers are with Manchester.
Photo via VisualHunt