by Steve Bivans
The Earth is in danger.
I think most of us know this. Even if we aren’t aware of all the details, we know that things aren’t right. It’s difficult to think about the enormous problems in our world and see any way past them.
How easy to give into despair, like Denethor, sitting in his cold tower of Ecthelion, high above Minas Tirith, gazing into the Palantir, able to foresee all the evil that Sauron had in store for Middle Earth and feel powerless to stop it.
I’ve felt much like Denethor myself sometimes. What can one do against such hate and evil? Against such destruction? Against such wanton disregard for life and the world around us? But we should not despair. Why? Mainly because it will not help, and surrender is distasteful, or it should be. Despair did Denethor no good. Nor did it help those under him who were still fighting to resist the armies of Sauron.
The steward’s attempt to commit suicide along with his son, Faramir, distracted Gandalf at a key moment during the siege of Minas Tirith. The wizard’s efforts were needed on the fields of the Pelennor (where Theoden, Eomer and Merry were confronting the Black King of Angmar), instead he had to leave the battle to rescue Faramir from Denethor’s insanity.
It is understandable if you feel overwhelmed by the problems confronting our Earth. It is difficult to get one’s mind around sometimes. But remember, Frodo was feeling the same thing, every single step he took towards Mordor and the fiery Mount Doom. But he never stopped walking towards it. As Winston Churchill once said,
“If you’re walking through hell, keep walking.”
And, Frodo wasn’t alone. Neither are we.
Frodo had a group of companions along side him. Closest was Sam of course, walking step by step with him, the entire way. Disregard Peter Jackson’s separation of the two friends as they climbed their way into Mordor. It never happened, and is one of my biggest complaints with the film version of the story, though I loved the movies. Nothing ever got between Frodo and Sam, and we all need a Sam in our lives. If you haven’t found yours, keep looking. Sam or no, we have other companions in our fellowship: Merrys and Pippins, not to mention lots of Aragorns, Boromirs, Faramirs, Gandalfs, Gimlis and Legolases, all out there fighting along with us for the protection of our Middle Earth.
Those of us who see the evils being perpetrated on our world, have a duty to clean up our own Shires. But don’t despair that the job is too big for one hobbit. There are many hobbits and wizards already working on it! It is worthwhile to take a quick look at a few now, those thinking outside the box, in new ways, to mend Mother Earth’s wounds. They stand as shinning examples of what little hobbits—or in some cases, wizards and warriors—can do to Save the Earth. As John Lennon once said, “There are no problems, only solutions.”
The plan for this list is to draw attention to those hobbits, wizards and warriors who are fighting, walking and silently working to Save our Earth. They are innovators, leading the Shire Movement, even if they don’t yet realize they are doing it. The plan is to give you three such Hobbit Heroes each month, to remind you that the answers to our questions lie not in the Palantir, not peering into the future—which is impossible anyway—but in the present, in the Old Forest, the green, green hills of Hobbiton, and the grassy plains of Rohan. In other words, you will not find solutions by staring at the problems. That is the path of Denethor. I hope these heroes can inspire us all to find innovative solutions in our own Shires.
Every monthly winner will receive an ebook copy of Steve’s Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, when it’s published in September! And they will be eligible to win HOBBIT OF THE YEAR, when YOU, my SUBSCRIBERS vote on who you think is the bestest hobbit of the entire year!
The Winners for the month of May are:
Paul Stamets: Some of the most promising innovations in the works are by Paul Stamets, a mycologist (that’s a wizard who studies mushrooms). If there is a candidate for the title of Gandalf (or maybe Radagast is more appropriate, since he spends much of his time in forests with the plants and animals), it’s Stamets. I love his innovations for a couple of reasons. First off, is there anything hobbits love more than mushrooms? Second, mushrooms might prove to be one of the best solutions to clean up the mess that fossil fuels are doing to our planet.
Stamets has discovered that a certain strain of mycelium, or mushroom, can actually eat oil and other pollution! I don’t mean they just absorb them, which would be helpful in itself. No, I mean they actually absorb, then break down oil and gas spills, and turn them into carbohydrates! If you want to know more about this, I strongly suggest you watch his TED talk video, or read about it HERE. Stamets has also developed a mushroom ‘sandbag’, essentially a sandbag with soil and mushrooms in it, that can be placed down hill from chemical, or industrial runoff to capture pollution before it makes it into our streams and rivers. The vision is to use these worldwide, anywhere there is toxic runoff water, to clean up our water supply before it makes its way to the sea. He has also developed mushrooms to solve other issues as well, like an alternative for pesticides, and medicinal applications. For all these reasons, I give Paul Stamets a Hobbit Hero, Save the Earth Award! Plus, he’s all about mushrooms.
Josephine and Jackson Counties, Oregon: Yes, this award goes out to two entire counties! Call it my Shire Award for the month! The citizens of Josephine and Jackson voted on May 20th to ban the “future, intentional growing” of GMO crops in their region. They managed to do this despite the attempts of Monsanto and other corporate interests to block the vote with millions of dollars. Way to go Josephine! They are forging the way for the rest of us! We should all take note of their success, and follow their example. It’s time to tell the
Saruman CEOs in the corporate world that we’re not gonna buy, grow, or sell their orcish crap anymore!
Check out the initiatives on Facebook, for both Jackson and Josephine, and give them a LIKE! Then share the news with your friends and fellow hobbits! Maybe then start a vote in your own Shire! Kick Saruman out on his old wizard butt!
Sarah Kavanagh: This story actually makes me tear up—and I’m a big ole manly-man usually—but it exemplifies everything this list is about: how one little hobbit can make a huge change in the world, by speaking out, blowing her little horn of Rohan, and gathering other hobbits to fight to clean up our Shire. Miss Kavanagh, who was a 15 year old vegetarian at the time—and I won’t hold that against her just because I love my bacon—was reading the ingredients on a Gatorade bottle when she discovered that it contained BVO (bromated vegetable oil).
When she Googled the additive, she discovered that it was linked to a long list of issues, including neurological disorders and altered thyroid hormones. Now Sarah could have just said, “Oh well, I won’t drink that,” thrown the drink in the trash, and went along her merry, teenaged way. She could have responded, “No adventures for this hobbit! They’re such “nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” But no, Miss Kavanagh took that Ring and marched it straight to the source: Pepsi Cola, by starting a campaign on Change.org to get them to remove it from Gatorade!
After she garnered over 200,000 signatures, Pepsi agreed to remove it from the product, which they did last year, and then announced that they would work to remove it from the rest of their products! Yay Sarah! But this little hobbit didn’t stop THERE! Oh no! She then took on the biggest dog in the industry, Coca Cola itself! And after only 60,000 signatures, THEY agreed to remove it from their products! I’m sure her original success with Pepsi had something to do with that! I mean, it’s hard to say no when your main competitor has agreed to do something that consumers are demanding. So for taking initiative and kicking some orcish butt, I bestow the Hobbit Hero, Save the Earth Award on Sarah Kavanagh! Follow her on Twitter!
Are you a hobbit hero? Maybe you know someone who is? Let us know! Join my mailing list on the right side of the page, and email me your suggestions! If you subscribe to the page, you’ll be eligible to VOTE for HOBBIT OF THE YEAR, in December!