Have you ever considered the ripple effects of even the smallest gesture of kindness or act done in the name of justice?
I’m a huge movie fan, and a LOTR nerd, so you know I saw The Hobbit this weekend. I’m not going to review the movie – hundreds of other bloggers have done that already. But the movie had a few deeper truths that have stuck with me.
No Spoilers – don’t worry if you haven’t seen the movie or even if you don’t intend to. Keep reading.
Gandalf is the guy with the grey beard and pointy hat. He’s a character Tolkien imbued with great wisdom in the books. Consider this quote from The Hobbit:
Galadriel: “Mithrandir, why the halfling?”
Gandalf: “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? That’s because I am afraid and he gives me courage.” Tweet This Quote!
Small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Do you agree with that? I do. A few ‘ordinary’ people doing small acts to stand up for justice, to do what they could to keep evil at bay. And they affected great change.
Mahatmas Gandhi – Gandhi worked for civil justice and freedom from colonial rule in India. He fought against many injustices in his political career, but his non-violent protest theories radically changed the face of protests worldwide. Did Gandhi hope for that? Perhaps. But at the time, he was all alone, in prison, protesting the injustices done to himself and his people. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
“Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.” Mahatmas Gandhi
Rosa Parks – A seamstress of no renown stood up for justice the day she refused to give up her bus seat to a white woman when ordered to. That single act of disobedience is credited as the starting date for the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. She didn’t expect her simple refusal would become the catalyst for something so much bigger than herself. She was one person, all alone, trying to do something small. “All I was doing was trying to get home from work,” Parks said. “It was not pre-arranged. It just happened that the driver made a demand and I just didn’t feel like obeying his demand. I was quite tired after spending a full day working.”
Malala Yousufzai – You may not recognize her name, but you’ve heard of this 15year old girl who defied the Taliban to promote education for girls in Pakistan, and was shot in the head on the way home from school. She was an ordinary girl of no particular wealth or authority, armed only with a ‘pen’ and an anonymous audience in another country, when she stood alone and faced a bully that’s taken the entire region captive. Malala’s story captured the world with her attempted assassination, and what’s being called her miracle recovery. Did she set out to focus the eyes of the world on her country? I can’t say. But her bravery has sparked more change than the UN’s political condemnation ever did.
“I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I’m afraid of no one.” Malala Yousufzai
Mohamed Bouazizi – A simple street vendor and father trying to provide for his family in Tunisia died in December 2010. In absolute frustration with the political corruption and injustice suffered at the hands of the local and national governments, he set himself on fire. His final act of protest and defiance sparked an uprising that swept the nation, and the entire region a month later, in what became known in early 2011 as the Arab Spring where so many dictators and corrupt leaders in the region were deposed by the common people. How did this act spark such outrage? A smuggled video from a phone of a forbidden public funeral went viral on the Internet. Did he intend that? How could he have even imagined such a thing?
A small act by an ordinary person to protest evil deeds.
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu – Burdened by a love to care for the poor, a young Albanian nun set out on her own for the streets of Calcutta to minister to the poorest of the poor. In the beginning she had no income, and was forced to beg for food and supplies. She was alone, and struggled day after day with self-doubt, and the overwhelming urge to return home. A year later a handful of sisters joined her, and another year later she started the Missionaries of Charity. As the years passed, her mission spread, awards came, and donations helped her reach more people, but she continued to live in the same poverty as those she ministered to. She did all that she could to help, one plate of rice at a time, one bandage, one hug, a kind word spoken with respect and dignity – to ease the suffering around her. We know her as Mother Teresa.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people then feed just one.” Mother Teresa
Do you agree with Gandalf — that it’s small everyday deeds of ordinary folk keep the darkness at bay? Can you think of a name you’d add to this list?
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