The Irony of Possession

Thank goodness for the internet, through which videos like this can enter my computer.

I thought it was pretty funny that whoever made this was able to use two complete “let it go!”s from the movie dialogue.  Which got me to thinking: even more than the courage of hobbits and the importance of fellowship, Lord of the Rings is all about “letting it go.”

The whole action of the story is directed to the destruction of the Ring,  but so many of the characters are tempted by its magic to keep it.  Some want to use it for the greater good, like Boromir.  Some use it selfishly, like Gollum.  Some just want it for its own sake, like Frodo after he became burdened by its power.  No matter how or why they want it, the burning lust takes control of their reason and makes them mad.  Gollum’s possession of the ring twisted him physically into an animal-like creature, banished to live in the slime and darkness.  Against his better judgement, Frodo would take the ring out just to look at it or stroke it.  In one of the most thematically brilliant scenes in the Fellowship of the Ring movie, Boromir tries to take the ring from as Frodo sternly tells him: “You are not yourself.”  They all lose themselves to the desire.

SoBright18

There are many temptations which can become “rings” in our own lives: money, our jobs, smartphones.  We might trick ourselves into believing these things make us who we are.  They become our “precious,” and we believe we have the right to possess them.  But in reality, we make ourselves slaves to the objects we have decided to love in a disordered way.  When we desire to take something and make it completely ours, in a strange irony it is that thing itself that enslaves our hearts and our minds.  Rather than exerting our own dominance, we suffer the dominance of addiction.  True freedom to use the things of this world comes from “letting them go,” by not allowing anything to dominate our actions and choices.  Saint Augustine, in his work On Free Choice of the Will, talks about how obsessive attachment is like sewing on unnecessary limbs to ourselves, which can only be removed with much suffering:

“Some men make evil use of these things, and others make good use.  And the man who makes evil use clings to them with love and is entangled by them, that is, he becomes subject to those things which ought to be subject to him…Therefore [let him not be] attached to them by love, lest he make them limbs, as it were, of his spirit (which happens if he loves them), and lest they weaken him with pain and wasting when they begin to be cut off from him.  Instead, let him be above temporal things completely.  He must be ready to posses and control them, and even more ready to lose and not possess them.”

The Gospel calls us to be “poor in spirit.”  Let’s let go of the things we know are enslaving us.

Sarah

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