Harry Potter celebrated his 33rd birthday on July 31 2013. Harry shares his birthday with his creator J K Rowling who turned 48 this July. “28 things that happened after the Harry Potter series “, the recent post doing the rounds on Facebook made me realize how much Harry has influenced us, the kids of the 90’s. We grew up thronging bookstores at every Potter release dreaming of going to Hogwarts, playing quidditch and practicing apparition. “Isn’t seven the most powerfully magical number”. Here are 7 things that we can learn from the Harry Potter series.
1. Courage: Harry in Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart, orphaned and shown cruelty by his relatives did not lose his nerve despite numerous odds and managed to brave death and bring down Lord Voldemort. In spite of being a poor wizard, Neville Longbottom stood against his own friends, fought the death eaters and finally killed Nagini. As Dumbledore said “It takes much bravery to stand up to our enemies but we need as much bravery to stand up to our friends.”
2. Friendship, Loyalty and Team Work: Harry did not get to the philosophers stone on his own. It was because of Ron’s chess skills and Hermione’s logic that he reached the stone. The tremendous loyalty that Harry showed for Dumbledore saved him from the Basilisk. Remember “I will only truly have left this school when none here are loyal to me… Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it.” Slytherin’s locket and Hufflepuff’s cup were destroyed by Ron and Hermione paving the way for the fall of the Dark lord.
3. Equality and respect: We must treat our fellow beings with kindness and respect. Discrimination against anyone on any basis is wrong! “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” “You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be”. Not considering Kreacher to be any worth cost Sirius his life and Voldemort his horcrux.
4. Love: “Is it love again? Dumbledore’s favorite solution, love”. Yes, love indeed, the power that the dark lord knows not and the power which finally vanquished him. Love towards others conquers evil and hate and lets us lead a more happy life. Snape, hated by most, turned out to be helping Harry all along because of his love towards Lily. “You are protected, in short, by your ability to love!” said Dumbledore loudly. “The only protection that can possibly work against the lure of power like Voldemort’s!”
5. The power of choice: “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” Neville could have chosen not to stand up to his friends. Ron could have chosen not to come back after leaving Harry. Cedric could have chosen to take the Triwizard cup. Harry could have chosen not to fight, not to accept death. Their choices determined their paths. When faced with a choice, do what is right and all will be well.
6. Family matters: Harry’s visions in the mirror of Erised, his longing for someone who cared, who sent him posts through owls, Dumbledore’s neglect and indifference that led to Arianna’s death and the split of his family show us the importance of family and how selfishness can break families apart. “I was gifted, I was brilliant. I wanted escape. I wanted to shine. I wanted glory. Two months of insanity, of cruel dreams, and neglect of the only two members of my family left to me.”
7. The truth of mortality: Harry’s unflinching acceptance of his mortality finally helped him triumph against Voldemort who feared death. “Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness”. Our dear departed ones have not left us alone. They live in us and help us live. “Oh, come on. You heard them, just behind the veil, didn’t you? They were just lurking out of sight, that’s all.”
The Harry Potter series has seen most of us through our formative years. It is impossible not to fall in love with the story and the lessons we derive from it are not bound by time or age. So when someone asks me “After all this time?” I say “Always “.