Tolkien on Patriotism

Today’s post is a bit different.

I recently re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. While I was reading it, I was particularly struck by a passage in The Two Towers.

In the chapter entitled “The Window on the West,” Faramir, son of Denethor, remarks to Frodo and Sam:

‘For myself,’ said Faramir, ‘I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.’

For Faramir, patriotism meant celebrating Gondor’s moral strength rather than her military might.

-P. Sicher

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