I missed that this piece went up a few days ago: talking about how to live in “Interesting Times.” I get to quote “Lord of the Rings” a lot in this one:
The first thing we ought to get clear right from the start is this: our circumstances are nothing new.
Certainly the specifics are original to our times (which is true of every time), but there have been many, many troubled or even disastrous ages before, and if there is one thing that may be learned from them, it is that life goes on.
The Greeks continued to compose poetry and discuss philosophy during the Peloponnesian Wars. St. Augustine continued to preach and write even as the Roman Empire collapsed about him. J.R.R. Tolkien married his wife during the opening years of the First World War (just before he himself was shipped to the Somme) and mostly composed his masterwork, The Lord of the Rings, amid the uncertainty and horrors during and leading up to the Second.
Indeed, that work is largely the picture of ordinary people living in ‘interesting times,’ and it offers some sound advice on the point:
“How shall a man judge what to do in such times?” Eomer asks, bewildered by the wonders and terrors springing up around him.
“As he ever has judged,” Aragorn answers. “Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear…It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
Read the rest here.