When the Way is forgotten, duty and justice appear;
When knowledge and wisdom arise, hypocrisy is born.
When there is strife within a family, brotherly love is spoken of.
When a country falls into chaos, leaders talk of patriotism.
Tao Te Ching Chapter 18
A Brother’s Course of Action: A Faramir Tale
March 7, 3019, Third Age. A single decision is made that effects the fate of the world. Amongst the rolling hills and forest a group of rangers move silently. Armed with bows and steel of Gondor they launch their attack against a column of Haradrim that are moving north to Mordor. During the conflict a small, smoldering campfire is discovered along with two halflings. A seemingly minor occurrence in the larger events of the day yet one which could impact all the free peoples of Middle Earth.
Faramir was born the second son of Denethor, Steward of Gondor. Not as charismatic or as beloved as his older brother Boromir, Faramir struggled with his role in life. Raised in a state of constant comparison and not quite good enough, he struggled between being his own person and following the direction of others. Even as a leader of warriors he craved the approval his father never gave him. After being deemed not worthy enough to represent Gondor at the council in Rivendell he is relegated to harassing the forces of Mordor in the region of Ithilien.
And so it was on that fateful spring morning Faramir found himself with a pair of captured hobbits. After learning what they bore and the purpose of their mission he found himself in the predicament of doing what he believed was right versus what he thought was expected of him. He knew his father would desire him to bring the ring of power back to Minas Tirith but he also knew that was not the way to peace and victory. Ultimately, he followed his heart and sent Frodo and Sam on their way and returned to Minas Tirith empty handed and ridiculed.
In a state of alienation and insignificance he fell back into the role of dutiful son and subject of the Steward. He forsook his own thoughts and followed the course of action he was told he should. Thanks to the deception of the Palantir, Denethor, full of his own wisdom and new found knowledge, instructed his son how to fight when he himself would not and ultimately tried to drag Faramir to his death.
When we lose our own personal course we begin to look outward for direction.
Seeking advice from friends or family, doing “the right thing”, living up to expectations. All these are external values used to direct behavior in the absence of personal direction. It is possible to live an entire life without making a choice. Like Faramir following the commands of his father, even though we did not choose this dictated path it opens us up to judgement and hypocrisy that we are forced to justify even if we do not believe. We are quick to look for outward validation of our behavior and while we may not be happy with the long term decision, it serves us in the moment.
Those choices that are made to fit the moment are usually the ones that come back and haunt us. Compromising our own desires to cater to those around us, settling for less because we feel it’s enough, not voicing our opinion for fear of upsetting others. All these are examples of how mismanaging the moment can have long term negative effects. We act in a manner that we feel is acceptable to another’s belief system even if it does not align with our own. Our actions take form only to please others even if they do not notice, then we resent them for not recognizing our sacrifice.
If we forsake the goal of being comfortable and instead act as our true selves then we begin to make changes that will resonate in the long term as well as the short term. Tension in the present will not last long but the sense of relief, peace, and joy that is inside you will germinate and grow stronger day by day. As you begin to feel more comfortable with making choices based on your desires and beliefs then you will gain independence from being reliant on others for your own mental and emotional well-being. If Faramir had returned to Gondor and stayed true to himself instead of subservient to a mad man then many deaths and much unnecessary grief could have been avoided.
By following your personal path you become no longer susceptible to the whims of an uncaring world that you must continually prove yourself to. You become the center of your universe and you control what happens. There is no need for the rigid constructs of right and wrong, good and bad, there is simply you. Your desire for fulfillment comes through actions that you take and you are responsible for. Do not wait for others to tell you how to live, choose for yourself. Now.