Confirmation bias afflicts even the most objective thinkers. I am generally sceptical that people, especially in our current febrile state, have the wise nuanced answers to the big questions of society, philosophy and the human condition. I think we are usually wrong, despite the confidence and self-certainty of the protagonists, who are wrapped-up in the self-constructed “isms” and other ideological belief identities, into which life is forced. But things always change. We are improving. It is better to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t know who I am” and to experience where reality turns on the journey.
What would have happened if Gandalf had accepted Frodo’s offer of the One Ring?
Gandalf freezes, the shadow of the ring draws his hand nearer; and as the fire skips a beat, the ring falls into Gandalf’s pocket. “I shall keep the ring safe and unused. However if there is just cause to use it, I shall become the guarantor of peace”, announces Gandalf solemnly.
As night draws in, Gandalf looks back over the hills at the tiny flickering lights of the Shire. The Wizard whispers to himself: “There is much to do. Much to do.” He notices the weight of his robes and the precious Ring within.
Gandalf wanders, ruminating intensely upon the weaknesses of Elves and Men. He reasons that Elves are incapable of comprehending the true power of the Ring, and would foolishly wish to destroy the golden future of Middle-earth. He knows that mere Men are too easily corrupted by its power. Gandalf is absolutely resolved: he must keep the Master Ring his own secret, at all costs.
Gandalf sits on the crest of Weathertop. The days pass, the rain falls but Gandalf does not notice; he is lost in matters of deepest consequence. Then out of every corner of the darkness come the cries of The Nine: “The Ring. The Ring!”. Gandalf raises his staff and proclaims: “I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor, your master, the Lord of the Ring!”. “The Ring. The Ring!”, chant The Nine. As the Ring slides onto Gandalf’s finger, the sky erupts with lightning. “I am the bringer of light”, exclaims Gandalf in triumph.
Gandalf of Many Colours imprisons Saruman the Traitor and unifies Elves and Men against Sauron, destroying the Dark Lord and his Dark Tower of Mordor. Much rejoicing is had by all. Gandalf announces that there is much more to do – to the consternation of Aragorn, who is executed for treason; with all his followers, kinsfolk and other suspected spies of Elrond.
Gandalf later wears an imperial gown of black and proclaims himself the Lord High God of all Middle-earth. He anoints his Ringwraiths Lords of Middle-earth, as a temporary edict to ensure order while the new Great Age of Wisdom is being forged. He puts his vast prison camps of heretics and traitors to work, building a bigger more magnificent tower on the ruins of the Dark Tower, called The Great Tower of Unity – as a example of beauty and perfection to all. Gandalf sits at the top of the tower in his golden throne room and ever-watches, ensuring his subjects are forever obeying his great will.
Gandalf is regularly overcome with anger at the disloyalty and ingratitude of his subjects, which necessitates public demonstrations of his great power, much to the amusement of the Uruk-hai. Transgressors of the laws of Gandalf are sent to Mordor to learn more of The Way of Gandalf – they are not seen again.
One day, as the Lord High God of all Middle-earth is amusing himself with the antics of his Hobbit court jesters, he sips from a chalice of poisoned wine carefully prepared by his servant Grima Wormtongue; he takes his last gasp as the Ring slips from his withered finger on to the finger of his murderer. The Great Tower of Unity is renamed The Dark Tower.
But Gandalf had foreseen and refused this fate, placing his hope instead on the unnoticed deeds of Hobbits. “Will you not take the Ring?”, says Frodo. “No!” cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. “With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.” His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. “Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me!”
The “us” and “them” mentality is the biggest obstacle to overcome. There is only we.
A successful society unlocks all people’s potential for kindness, fulfilment and happiness.
If you are truly happy, it is impossible to be petty, self-absorbed or unkind. Happiness lives in a much better place.