Contrary to the obvious, there is no small group of people who control the world. The sinful people I saw in schools and college were operating without considering what's right. They thought they could lie, deceive, and get away with it. This brash disregard for morality was recklessly wrong to me. There was no one at the top controlling them. They had simply chosen to be immoral, while some had merely allowed themselves to sin.
There was a time in high school when everyone cheated on a test, which the invigilators allowed. I was the only one who did not cheat. Yet I was ridiculed at school and then at home for not taking advantage of the situation. Their rationale was, "cheating is not bad if everyone is doing it. You are just a loser and will be left behind.” Fine, I was left behind but this rationalization should concern people. Even minor sins open the door to massive moral breaches. When people know that they did something immoral, they often don’t repent or fix their errors. Cognitive dissonance kicks in and they shift their moral standard to justify their breaches. Instead of repentance, they literally change their frame of reference. They fall from grace. This shifting of frame allowed people at my school and at home to think that not only it was ok to cheat but also preferable to do so. There is no limit to how low people can fall this way.
The temptation of evil is visually shown in the Lord of the Rings. Gandalf refused to take the ring. Galadriel, too, passed the test. But many fell for it. Saruman and Sauron were Maia (primordial angelic spirits). Gollum was a hobit. The 9 ringwraiths were once kings. But they all fell to evil (power and greed). Evil slowly corrupted them and turn them into Sauron. Eru (God) made no mistakes. He made no evil beings. He only gave his creations freedom, which allowed them to succumb to evil. As more of them fell, Sauron became more powerful. Sauron alone couldn't rule Middle Earth even with the one ring. Corruptable beings gave him power. He had no power over incorruptible beings like the Hobbits and Tom Bombadil. Now, you may think that Eru should have not given them freedom. You can eliminate sin by eliminating freedom. But just what do sin and morality mean to slaves? Just what is admirable about slaves who have neither virtue nor vice? Just what is the point of creating slaves? Just what kind of story would that be? One that awaits free agents.
I can tell you many stories of everyday people who do things that are “just a tad bit wrong”. Once they do it, they can be saved only if they repent. It is very similar to the effect that the ring had on Boromir. We can see that Boromir did repent instead of justifying attacking Frodo. If he had let evil penetrate him, he would have fallen for it. People think that there are a few men at the top like Sauron and Saruman who with the aid of ringwraiths are controlling the world when it is the evil in the being of every man that is attempting to enslave humanity. If they want to be free, they must give up greed. If they have sinned, they must repent like Boromir. They must distance themselves from every evil institution. Only then can the enemy be weakened. The problem is evil not man. They must cast their evil into the fires of Mount Doom. Sauron will disappear.
It was 2018. I lived in Mississippi. I had begun seeing LOTR characters in everyday people. My hope rested in country folks, who ride their trucks in ponds, sing country songs, and play in the mud, unlike the psychopathic suicidal people who held powerful positions in college and the banks nearby. Educated people saw in them backward savage like people, not worthy of friendship. But I saw in them hobbits. They enjoyed life. They loved food (fried chicken), country music, and just everyday things. This love for life will one day encourage them not to become complicit in evil. Perhaps, they may one day learn that to love life means to love all life not just theirs, for it is impossible for a man to live a great life if his neighbors are suffering. You can’t ride that truck carelessly if supply chains break and you can’t buy fuel or repair tools. You can’t go hunting and fishing if the equipment suppliers go bankrupt. My friend loved Chinese food but she won’t be able to indulge in it if the Chinese diaspora feels unwelcome and leaves. You can’t have a good life if others are suffering, just like a body can’t be healthy unless all organs are healthy. Humans may either fall together or rise together. A battle within them is like parts of a body battling among one another. Life is not a countable noun. You can’t love one form of it and reject others. These words of Gandalf summarizes how I viewed country people -
"Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I've found it is the small things, everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Simple acts of kindness and love." Source
I found an article on Misses Institute that oddly runs parallel to the themes I have explored here. Check it out Tolkien vs Power.