Thursday, July 31, 2014
10 Difficult Lessons From Harry Potter
A recent study indicates that kids who read Harry Potter have a better sense of empathy for the disenfranchised. Why am I not surprised at all?
What we read makes us who we are. Stepping into another person's shoes gives us empathy and understanding.
For Harry's birthday, I thought I'd enumerate some of the important messages kids can learn from Harry Potter. Some of these are very grown up concepts, eschewing idealism for realism, echoing difficult history and difficult truths. The world is a gray place, and Rowling was determined to show it.
1. Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Sirius Black was locked away in Azkaban for years because by all appearances he had callously murdered innocents.
2. Your Lineage Doesn't Define You
Hermione proved again and again that you don't have to be "pure-blooded" to be a fan-freaking-tastic magician.
3. Divisiveness is a Distraction Method Used by Dangerous People
The Death-Eaters obsession with "pure-blooded" wizards echoes Hitler's obsession with the perfect race.
4. The Media is Slanted Toward Sensationalism
Rita Skeeter was always more interested in creating scandal than she was in reporting the truth.
5. Even The Highest Elected Officials Can Be Wrong
The Minister of Magic chose to ignore Harry's story about the return of Voldemort because it was easier to do so.
6. The Finality of Death
I kept hoping that some of the dead characters weren't really dead, but Rowling forced us to deal with loss in a realistic way. There is no Gandalf the White here.
7. Your Best Friend Can Turn His Back on You
It wasn't a pretty moment, but when Ron succumbed to the jealousy he's always struggled with, and walked out on Harry and Hermione in The Deathly Hallows, Harry had to try to do without him.
8. The Disenfranchised Have Value
Dobby and the other house-elves proved that they had abilities and magic the Death Eaters underestimated.
9. Bullies in the Schoolyard Might Never Grow Up
Lucius Malfoy and the other Death Eaters are a disturbing example of what bullies can become if unchecked.
10. People Can Make Amazing Sacrifices
Severus Snape never loved Harry, but he saved his life again and again, at his own peril.