(This is page 2. For Page 1, CLICK HERE)
We’re continuing our study of the 7 things I learned reading the Hobbit. We went through the easy ones first. Those are lessons that are pretty self-evident. The next three are tougher, and I think most of us have trouble — if not in learning them, then in remembering them when it matters.
5. Doing the Right Thing Is More Important than Being Loyal
To Thorin Oakenshield, almost until his final day, Bilbo Baggins committed an act of treason that was unpardonable. In an effort to stop a war, Bilbo actually did the one thing he’d been hired to do as a burglar: He stole something valuable. But instead of giving it to Thorin, who both greatly desired it and was paying for said burglary, he gave it to the leaders of the armies arrayed against the dwarves of Erebor. No greater treachery could have existed for Thorin, who was feeling the great rush of greed and goldlust that his fathers had experienced being in possession, once again, of the Lonely Mountain.
If Bilbo had remained loyal, and gone along with his friend, it’s very possible they all would have been slaughtered in battle. Even so, his actions didn’t prevent the war. It could be questioned whether or not he even did the right thing, unless you remember his motives. At the end of the day, Bilbo wanted peace. He wanted Thorin to come to his senses, and he wanted both sides to remember that there was more important, better things both sides could be doing other than slaying each other.
Doing the right thing is never the easiest route. Going against your friends when they want you to do the not-best thing is excruciatingly tough. Too many times I’ve gone along with the crowd, wondering if I should maybe take a stand and go a different direction. Bilbo knew this was the right thing. This is a hard, hard lesson to learn. When it came to the very end, Thorin did learn it, though at a very great cost.
6. You Take Care of the Spiders, Dragons Will Take Care of Themselves
The biggest obstacle to success Bilbo Baggins could ever have imagined would have to be the enormous dragon sitting on the horde he’d been hired to burgle. Yet along the way he ran into countless other challenges that helped him prepare for “the big one.” He cut his teeth on trolls. He survived Gollum and the goblins of the Misty Mountains. He singlehandedly saved the dwarves from the spiders of Mirkwood, and he developed an escape plan from the wood elves of the Greenwood. By the time he got to Smaug, he was able to easily surmise his entire experience through a laundry list of lofty titles that showed in more ways than one: Bilbo had paid his dues.
And then a funny thing happened. When the dragon decided to kill everyone bothering him (something dragons usually end up deciding), neither Bilbo nor the dwarves had a direct hand at all in defeating him. Oh, Bilbo noticed a key flaw, and managed to relay that information to the people who needed it, but he never once had to face the dragon in mortal combat.
Life is very much like that. Coaches tell you: how you practice is how you will perform. Motivational speakers will tell you that if you take care of the little things, the big things will work themselves out. Being a hero very often doesn’t mean stepping in front of a bullet, or saving a runaway train. Sometimes the most heroic thing you can do is go in and do your job every day the best way you can, and be an example of positivity and hope and encouragement for the friends and family around you. Sometimes just offering a friendly smile, or a hand out to someone who’s down can change a person’s world. The quiet, small moments in your life may lead to the victory over a major challenge you run into later.
Bilbo never once fought Smaug. But he fought the spiders, and he learned what he needed to know against a lot of tiny foes how to better handle and conquer the big one when he finally opposed the dragon face to face.
7. We’re All In this Together
Well, all the choices Thorin Oakenshield made led to a lot of people arraying against him. He pissed off the elves by escaping from their prison cells. He pissed off the men of Lake Town by waking up a crotchety dragon and sending him to destroy their town. He had his cousin’s army join him, but things looked pretty grim what with three pretty unhappy armies all getting ready to destroy themselves after what should have been a joyous occasion.
Instead, something else happened. Turns out, Thorin had pissed off the goblins of the Misty Mountains. Big time. And they brought an army bigger than the other three combined. As Martin Lawrence would say…
We as Americans forget this lesson and have to relearn it whenever some jerk blows up a building or guns down kids or other forces suddenly array against us. When push comes to shove we’re all on the same team. When adversity rises against us, we collectively rise together, and overcome. Dwarves, elves, men and eagles together united for the first time to stop a common enemy. Through combat against a common foe, a peace was achieved.
It’s important to remember this, when we’re arguing with our in-laws about politics. It’s important to remember it when your son or daughter “comes out.” At the end of the day, we’re all just folk. At the end of the story, we need to all be on the same side. Remember that, and you may find you’ve learned the most important lesson of them all.
Well… There you go. The 7 lessons I found while reading The Hobbit. Did I miss any? Did I get these wrong? Tweet me @Gawainthestout and tell me how wrong I am. Leave me some comments below. Or, just bitch about it on your Facebook wall. I’m easy. Thanks for reading.
This was page 2 of the article. For Page 1, CLICK HERE.