If you were to ask someone who’d never read or watched the Lord of the Rings before to guess who the biggest hero of the story would be, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if they picked one of the powerful warrior characters, like Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli.
It seems like a strong person who’s been trained in combat would be the best candidate to take Sauron’s ring to Mordor and throw it into the fires of Mount Doom. However, even though Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are all great characters who have important roles to play in the story, the two characters who end up going on the main “hero’s quest” come from much humbler beginnings: two Hobbits named Frodo and Sam.
Before Frodo inherited the ring from his Uncle Bilbo Baggins, he lived a quiet, simple life in the Shire, far away from the darker problems brewing in Middle-earth. The ring never should have been his responsibility, or his problem, but when he is asked to serve, he steps up willingly. Sam also makes great sacrifices to follow Frodo into danger, and without these two brave Hobbits, Middle-earth likely would have fallen into ash and ruin.
The rise of unlikely heroes is one of the major themes in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and it’s a large part of why this story continues to be so endearing. Even though the story takes place in an imaginary fantasy world, we find it easy to relate to Frodo and Sam. Not many of us feel like we were “born for greatness”; we haven’t been trained as warriors, and few of us have been given the wealth of kings.
And yet, just like Frodo and Sam, we still have the potential for greatness inside us, and there’s so much good we can do in the world.
Here are important three lessons we can learn from Frodo and Sam’s journey in the Lord of the Rings:
Don’t worry about what you can or can’t accomplish; just do something
It’s easy to take a look at the complex problems plaguing our world today and to feel overwhelmed. How can one person make an impact on such widespread issues as global poverty, injustice, and war? Is it worth it to even try?
I’m sure Frodo and Sam also felt overwhelmed when they thought about the journey to Mount Doom and all that would entail. Some people were probably very skeptical about whether the Hobbits could actually do it.
Yet instead of being overcome by doubt, Frodo and Sam simply accepted the call to action, tackling the journey one small step at a time. And that’s exactly what we have to do in our world as well.
Maybe one person can’t solve global poverty. However, you can still do something good within your own sphere of influence. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Knit scarves for a local homeless shelter during the winter months.
Pick a cause and start doing something — anything. Don’t be daunted by the size of the issue; just start doing something good, in whatever way you can. And who knows? Maybe your actions will end up inspiring others to take up the cause, just as Frodo and Sam’s courage inspired the people of Middle-earth. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish if you just commit to the journey.
There’s good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for
One of my favorite moments in the entire LOTR trilogy of movies is a scene between Frodo and Sam in “The Two Towers,” when the situation is looking particularly bleak. Frodo and Sam are both weary of the fight against Mordor, but Sam reminds his friend that “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
“How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened,” Sam wonders. “But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.”
It’s a quote I like to refer back to when I’m feeling discouraged. Every day when I look online, I see the worst of humanity: hatred, anger, selfishness, and unkindness. It’s hard to see the good in the middle of the bad.
Yet a light of hope still shines in the darkness, and I’m reminded of that every time I see a small spark of goodness. There’s a lot about our world that feels like a raging dumpster fire right now, but Sam is right: there is still good, and it’s worth fighting for. Don’t give up!
You’ve got a friend in me…
I used to be really bad about asking others for help. I’d try to do everything myself, feeling too guilty or nervous to ask for assistance, even if I was really overwhelmed.
As you probably know, that’s not a very healthy way to live. As humans, we deeply crave connection, and we simply can’t do everything on our own. Sometimes, we have to humble ourselves and ask for help.
Frodo and Sam both needed each other on the long journey to Mordor, and without their strong friendship, they probably would have failed. We all need a friend like Sam who can reach out a hand when we’re too weak to get up, and help pull us to our feet.
Friends like that aren’t always easy to find, so if you do have a friend who is “your Sam,” make sure you let them know how much you appreciate them. And make sure you’re there for them too, when it’s their turn to be in need.
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