What J.R.R. Tolkien can educate us about life after Trump

We haven't freed ourselves from the scourge of Trumpism either. On the contrary, Trumpists still hold top positions in government and have not joined the legitimate transfer of power. High-ranking elected officials remain complicit. Trump loyalists have been used in our justice system and civil service. Armed militias threaten to use violence. And millions of our fellow citizens have joined the corrupt and immoral Trump regime.

Tolkien understood that the consequences of evil are not suddenly good, but a long, hard, nondescript slog toward normality and decency. And he understood that even this humble work would be subject to resistance from the viciously vanquished. "I've already done a lot to make it difficult for you to mend or undo," grins Sharkey / Saruman at Frodo when he realizes he's defeated. Compare this to Mitch McConnell after Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation before the Supreme Court: "Much of what we have done over the past four years will sooner or later be undone in the next elections. You will not do much about it can. "

McConnell may be right – in fact, he can still do harm even if we work to correct him – but we have to do it anyway. And Tolkien gives us insight into the way work needs to be done: with determination, but also with compassion. As the leader of the free hobbits, Frodo forbids violence against his hobbit colleagues, “even if they have gone to the other side. Really got through, I mean, not just obeying … because they're scared. "He warns:" There is no point in meeting vengeance with vengeance: it will not cure anything. " Compare this to Joe Biden: “We must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans. "

Like Trump's MAGA minions, Saruman's thugs – hobbit, halborc and human – demand respect but do not deserve any. What they deserve, Frodo knows, is the chance to change – with consequences if they choose not to. "Don't kill him now, either," he instructs Sam after the shamed wizard has just tried to stab him with a dagger. "He was once great, of a noble kind … He fell and his healing is beyond us, but I would spare him anyway, in the hope that he could find it." But Saruman's pride, like Trump's, prevents conversion. "All my hopes are ruined," he tells Galadriel in an earlier chapter, "but I would not share yours." And Frodo has no qualms about driving him and his henchmen out of town – as we don't have to have one to drive the recalcitrant Trump and his thugs out if they refuse to leave in peace.

When Sam is first informed of Sauron's fall and the success of the quest, he wonders, "Will everything sad go wrong?" In "The Scouring of the Shire" Tolkien lets Sam give his own answer: "I won't call it the end," he says, "until we clear the mess." And that will take a lot of time and effort. "This work is now our work. To quote Joe Biden:" The work to make this vision a reality is the task of our time. "

The earlier we start, the sooner we can say, together with Sam's old gaffer: "Everything is good, it ends better!"

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