Thursday, July 14, 2011

The End of an Era: Lessons I Learned from Harry Potter

Well, this it it. After tonight, there will be no more new experiences (barring any craziness from JK Rowling) of the Harry Potter series. While I am definitely excited, I'm also a bit sad that this is it. I remember the first time my sophomore English teacher, Mrs. Griffith (affectionately known as Mrs. G), said, "You know, there's this book called Harry Potter that I think you'd really like." I asked what it was about, and she said, "It's about a boy who finds out he's a wizard and goes to a wizarding school." I remember rolling my eyes a bit and thinking, "Really, Mrs. G? You think I'm that kid?" Well, it turns out I was that kid through and through. Harry Potter became a companion on my journey to adulthood and one of the top reasons I want to have kids of my own (okay, a bit of hyperbole). I've devoured the books four times over, seen the last four movies (I believe, maybe not in Iowa) at the midnight showing, and have usually included a reference or two in my sermons. So, I thought today I would dedicate a post to some lessons I learned from Harry Potter.

1. Prejudice sucks. Muggles, elves, goblins, sqibs, witches, wizards, giants, even werewolves - they all have the capacity for works of great good and astounding evil. Sometimes you have ideas about people because of class, gender, race, social status, etc., and if you act out of these prejudices all the time, you may end up hanging out with a lot of Death Eaters. So, don't.
2. (similarly) Don't write people off. Some people seem difficult to deal with, Snapish even, but that doesn't mean you get to write them off. As Katherine Hepburn says in the movie The Philadelphia Story, "The time to make up your mind about a person is never." Some people will seem to be your enemies right up until that time when they aren't anymore, and if you hadn't already put them in a box, you may have been surprised earlier by what you saw in them.
3. Sometimes life sucks, but that doesn't mean you get to give up or despair. Sometimes your parents are killed by the most evil wizard of all time, ditto your godfather (trade most evil wizard of all time to most evil witch of all time). Sometimes it seems like the whole world is against you, and the Daily Prophet will just not give you a break. Sometimes your friends misunderstand you. Sometimes you can't decide what to do about Cho and/or Ginny. Sometimes life sucks that way. Well, you still have to keep soldiering on and not be like you were in the opening 200 pages of the 5th book: a whiny baby. It's not becoming on you, and in the end, there is too much hope and beauty and love in life to give into it. Good will come in the end.
4. Sometimes round glasses are just what the doctor ordered.

5. Good friends are priceless; hang on to them. What would Harry have done without Ron and Hermione, Neville and Luna, Fred and George? They are the ones who help you get through the suckiness and may just have the very things you lack when the going gets tough - like a hand bag with an undetectable extension charm that will hold all the stuff you need for a crazy camping trip. As a rule, a few of them probably should be crazy or weird.
6. Don't trust the political establishment to bring about change. Usually they're trying to hang on to their jobs (I'm looking at you, Barty Crouch, Sr.) or are a bit off their rocker (Scrimgeour). You're better off subverting the system and just getting rid of Voldemort yourself. Sometimes you're even going to get someone evil like Delores Umbridge. Then, let 'em have it (figuratively).
7. Don't take yourself to seriously. If you can't laugh occasionally at all the craziness, just pack it up. Think of the beautiful scene when Harry and Hermione dance to the Nick Cave song in the first installment of HPVII. Sometimes you need to do things like that especially when life seems so heavy.
8. Be merciful. Yes, some people deserve what is coming to them, but don't be too eager to deal it out. You're better off being like Harry and disarming someone ("expelliarmus") rather than bringing harm to them ("avada kedavra"). Plus, who knows when mercy will come full circle (Wormtail comes to mind).
(the next two kind of go together)
9. Love wins. It is more powerful than hate, even when it seems to look weak.
10. Good is worth fighting for. Yeah, sometimes it takes a while, looks like it will never actually do any good, and may even cost you a lot. Yet, there is something about good that makes it worth fighting for in spite of all of this. Even when it isn't worth it, it is.

So there it is. The lessons I have learned. After tonight I will probably be in a state of mourning, but I'll be okay in the end. I can always re-read and re-watch at my leisure. So, here's to you, Harry Potter.