The tale of Gandalf and Winston Churchill, and a thing called Defiance

This school semester has been an exceptional adventure… tho I have to admit, not so much in the fun way.  Full of all the “joys” that a broken van, then a broken hubby’s car, of course the asd’s trying to stay sane with high school state mandated tests, and 11th grade English (still not sure we’ll make it on that one), an overabundance of doctor appointments trying to hunt down health problems- finding one- and the panic of scoliosis needing surgery (has anyone got any good thoughts on getting Spectrum anxiety thru that one?), all stirred together in a house still trying to get thru the chaos of remodeling as we work to add a couple rooms for the older boys.  There has been good things too- like walking 6 or more miles all over Disney, chaperoning with the 8th grade orchestra workshop- I’m so proud of her!

But I would be very ungrateful if I did not mention a very amazing moment of “wow- I love the gift of inspiration!” right smack in the middle of everything.

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One day, right in the middle of all that was going on, I had to go get hubby from work, and my younger boy was having one of those “I do not like submitting, Mom-I-am;  I will not, can not, move my brain from this stand” kind of days; so  I made a snap decision that he had to come with me in the car. He hates those times– it means he has pushed too far.  I have told him that he has to earn the trust bucket of staying home on his own when I make my errands… But suddenly, I didn’t feel like reminding him of this.  Instead- after lots of hugs- I had the feeling that he was old enough to learn the term “Defiant.”

So– here’s my story…….

“DK- Do you know that Gandalf and Winston Churchill are a lot alike?”

“No.”

“Yup- they could practically be brothers.”  (did you know that?)  Suddenly all was calm, and I had him in rapt attention.

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“In fact, Even tho’ Gandalf (the wizard of the story “Lord of the Rings”) is fictional, and Churchill wasn’t, there was a point in each of their stories that was very close to the same situation.  You see, both men were very concerned with helping others in the big picture sort of way- and both were fairly well known in their peer groups, what you might call the movers and shakers of politics; but they were not all that well known to the common person or to other countries.  And that was just fine with them. And both were at the right place at the right time when their unique qualities were most needed…

“So super-shorthand version; at one point in the story, Gandalf was taking his group of questing friends across the high mountains.  All other paths to safety had been blocked, and they had no choice but to go thru the deep, dark, caves called the mines of Moria.   Then they found out that it was completely over-run by the enemy; they were horribly outnumbered and out-gunned.  Miraculously,  they won free enough to make one last run for freedom, and then the great Balrog appeared….

“Now- do you know who Churchill was? (Naturally I got a startled- uhhh) Well, Churchill grew up in Britain.  Sometime between the World Wars, he decided to get into politics.  By the time of Germany’s invasions of Europe, Winston was respected enough in his circles of influence in the British Parliament, that he was elected into the office of Prime Minister.   Britain tried to ride the mountain peaks of staying out of the war- but Nazi Germany was moving fast.  It did not last long before all choices had been blocked off- and they were in their own version of the mines of Moria- it was War- and it was dark, frightening, they were badly outnumbered and out-gunned.  For a while they were holding their own, but then came the bombing raids….

(do you hear the dum-dum-dummm music?)

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“So- do you know what the word ‘defiant’ means?”  umm…. so I continued.

“Here we have Gandalf on the bridge.  He has made the decision that there is nothing that will move him from keeping his friends safe.  So he stands on the bridge, and holds up his hand, and (say it with me)  “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” (and if Tolkien had ever heard of periods between words for more emphasis, it would have probably been written that way.)   THAT is defiance.  Every ounce of his energy is focused into the act of ‘defying’, or refusing, any further progress to his enemy.

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In Britain, Churchill faced an equal need for defiance- but it was not such a personal battle- it was his whole country in need.  For after the Nazi regime conquered the surrounding countries; then they turned all that extended power towards the Island of Britain.  The people needed the courage to ALL stand against the enemy. Churchill had to spend some time, and much of his attention to speeches and any other thing he could think of, to gather and rally his people to stand fast and ‘DEFY’ the whole enlarged German empire.

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We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

 

Now- is what they did a good thing?  Yes, absolutely.  Defiance, by itself is like a box of matches.  It is not the matches that are good or bad, but what they are used for.  When we use our feelings of defiance for purely selfish reasons- for just us, and what WE want, or just because we don’t feel like doing something, or don’t feel like obeying someone, the world calls that “oppositional defiance”.  The Scriptures call it selfishness or childishness, or Pride.   When we use that inner feeling for good, for helping others, or for a just cause- that kind of defiance is called “inner Strength.”  It is also the only kind that can build our courage.   As we grow, it is the mark of maturity and true greatness to turn our ‘defiant’ tendencies into this inner strength.  I feel for the moms of Gandalf and Churchill- but aren’t you glad they learned to use their defiance for truly good causes?  They learned how to turn their childhood struggles into Great Strengths, and this is a very big reason that we think of them as great Men.  You are on the road to being Great too– I have seen you as you try to overcome your weaknesses.  And don’t forget- ask for help- that is also a part of growing up to become a great man.”

Categories: LDS Mom of Autism, Parables | Leave a comment

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