If Tolkien had written about climate movement, what character would you be and which chapter would we be currently in?
“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 Lord of the Rings. J. R. R. Tolkien)
Do you remember the time when we brought the alarming message to the highest council where the leaders of all the races had gathered to decide how to protect our world from an expanding shadow? And how after talking and talking no one among them seemed ready to take the responsibility that was demanded by the crisis? And then how we realized that we were the ones to lead this struggle and to carry the burden further to save everything we loved?
Well, if having read this you get confused whether the paragraph is about the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen or about the Elrond Council from the Lord of the Ring saga, we are in the same boat. One day this autumn I looked around and saw myself in the middle of the climate movement epos, no less dramatic than Frodo & Co’s adventures in the Middle Earth.
Photo: You want to have a good company when starting a long journey. Ukrainian climate activists left to right: me, Inna, and Vik.
Press ‘Read more’ for the story from the real-world Hobbiton and to find out what character you are
I grew up in a peaceful agrarian country where people are far more concerned about their potato yield and their neighbor’s family affairs than about the bigger world events, be it American president election or global climate crisis. Majority of the world population would find it hard to say where we are on the world map. We tend to enjoy the simple joys of life like good food and folk music and neglect any threatening evidences that may reach our ears, at least until they strike us directly. We are even famous for our proverb ‘Moya khata s krayu‘ meaning ‘I’m all right Jack’. I wouldn’t be surprised if that resembles you Shire a little.
Now, I’m a daughter of my people – I’ve always preferred a warm evening with friends with a bottle of beer to heroic deeds on the frontiers of history. If I ever dreamed about adventures it was mostly with a good book and a cup of tea and a cozy blanket. How on earth did I end up with a group of warriors heading to Mordor?
The more I think about the climate movement and the war of the ring, the more parallels I see. Aren’t our beautiful lands threatened by a powerful shadow? Haven’t we heard about our sisters and brothers from afar already facing its menacing effects? Didn’t many of us submit to the enemy or deny its existence? Yes, our leaders are tempted, our forests are dying, and our lives are at risk. And yes, we fight – some of us reveal the wormtongues who corrupt our governors; others risk their freedom to block iron towers and their smoking pits; and some of us work to end discords between different folks and to form alliances. We are at the state of war. We have inherited this ring from the fossil-fired past, the ring of greed, of imprudence, of dominance, born by the dark flames. It shouldn’t be used any longer, or the world as we know it will collapse. We are living at the verge of the epochs.
So, my dear ring fellows, where you feel we are now in this heroic story? Are we straying in Moria, fighting for Minas Tirith or perhaps climbing the Mount Doom? Are we reaching the end of the story and the victory and how many struggles are still awaiting us?
And then, if you don’t mind going further with this fantasy metaphor, what character represents you in the climate saga? Personally, I don’t dare to compare myself with this devoted, innocent and unearthly little Frodo. No, I’d rather be one of the fun-loving and somewhat careless Marry and Pippin duet. Sometimes though, I feel a blink of Maia’s power whose mission is to guide, build trust and spread knowledge. In a meantime my character might as well be an unnamed girl sitting in the attic somewhere in Hobbiton sending out messages about the ongoing fight with the simple magic of Internet. After all, Tolkien didn’t mention too many female personages in the book, did he?
There are lots of heroes in our epos and we definitely need you all: aragorns, gendalfs, eowyns, school teachers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, campaigners, ents, elves, scientists, engineers, mothers, peasants, anonymouses… Everyone plays their role and makes the glory day a bit closer. I’m so privileged to take part in this journey with you, and even though I don’t know exactly why each of you has joined it, I think the reasons are common. We have joined the mission because of compassion, because of hope, because of love.
And even if sometime we’d prefer to return to our peaceful gardens and breed the roses, the home is behind us and ‘the road goes ever on and on’.