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. – Gandalf, “The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey”.
In continuation from yesterday’s post “Why Archaeologists”, I want to follow the “hero journey” one step further to examine the quality of smallness in the hero. Not only is the main character often an ordinary, but the hero is often the underdog.
Think of the orphans, outcasts, children, or ‘nobodies from nowhere’ who are suddenly in possession of a magical item, granted a mysterious power or discover and fantastic destiny. These characters are sent out on the “hero journey” quite beyond their own wishes, but in the process find courage and wit beyond their expectation, timely help and return home, much transformed.
Just as the “scientist” hero is an avator to our dreams, to carry us into mystery safely, the “underdog” hero is our avatar to carry us to greatness. If the smallest of chracters can face the giants, wizards, beasts or evil empire, so can we. Moreover, the truth that victory over darkness comes through “the everyday deeds of ordinary folk….. small acts of kindness and love” is a profound truth we need constant reminder of.
In an earlier post “Ubermensch and what stories teach about power” [Dec 5, 2014], I reflected on the irony that as power grows, power controls. Power creates puppets. Narratives with a small hero, remind us that history is turned by the “small acts of kindness and love,” by the deeds of “everyday people”.
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