“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. . . . If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
New Zealand reminded me over and over again of a fairy land. It was the perfect setting for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies. Stuart and I spent Feb. 11-27, 2016, traveling to and from the north and south islands of this mystical place.
We left a lot of political noise behind us and found a place that seems more innocent. All travelers go through a “honeymoon” stage, and our trip was too short for any other stage to emerge. But that was part of its value.
Here are some nuggets we discovered. New Zealand is:
- the last landmass on earth to be discovered by human beings
- a place without bears, snakes, or crocodiles
- a place filled by birds of all sizes, shapes, and colors
- where 75 percent of the people vote in elections
- where guns and ammunition are not banned but are heavily controlled and separated from each other
- where most people have enough to live on and where billionaires can be counted on one hand
- where the Maori, the first human inhabitants, have a place in the politics, culture, and language. For example, watch as the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team shouts traditional Maori haka chants to intimidate their opponents. Listen to the crowd in London roar. It’s not surprising that New Zealand claims the world championship in this sport.
- where the varied landscapes and topologies of the entire globe seem to be preserved next to each other in cascading variety and beauty: oceans, lakes, rivers, geysers, swamps, mountains, deserts, gorges, farmland, vineyards,
- where sheep outnumber people at least six to one
- where women have voted since 1893, the first country in the world to grant the right
- where the energy of the country seems young, optimistic, and creative, just like native son Sir Edmund Hillary when he climbed Mt. Cook and then Mt. Everest.
It’s our duty to escape if we value liberty, says Tolkien.
The challenge we face now is to bring the amazing landscapes, the calming sights of sheep and cows grazing, the variety of people we met, the sound of young boys singing in the “Cardboard Cathedral” in Christchurch, and even the thrill of two luge rides down the mountain in Queenstown, back home. How do we move from private reverie to collective gain? How do we take as many people with us as we can?
Do you agree with Tolkien that escape is a good thing? If so, where do you go to escape? How do you share your insights with others?