Studies have shown that the Harry Potter generation is much less bigoted, more empathetic, kinder, more accepting, and reads more as a consequence of having been raised reading the series. We were raised on the progressive values that J. K. Rowling instilled into the books, and if we return to the world of Harry Potter, “whether by print or on screen” (as Queen Joe said at the premiere of the last movie), if we retrace our steps back to what was effectively our home, we can see that we did indeed pick up some really valuable lessons in morality and ethics and about the human spirit. We can see that we have more to learn from it, too, because reading a book at different stages of your life gives it greater depth, more layers of significance.  From the set of books that opened our eyes to magic and reached deep into us so that we expanded, and our imagination grew exponentially, we learned thus:

  • We learned to face adversary like Gryffindors, to be loyal like Hufflepuffs, to be ambitious like Slytherins, and to thirst for knowledge like Ravenclaws (because let’s face it, we were always aching for the next installment within the series to be released).
  • We learned valuable tricks, how to take care of your friend when he starts puking slugs, how to play wizard chess, how to pronounce “levio-sa”, how to breathe underwater, how to re-grow and arm’s worth of bones, how to raise a dark lord from the grave (I’m sure this will come in handy someday).
  • We learned how to get out of Devil’s Snare, how to stand up to our enemies and our friends, how to kill a basilisk, how to fight off dementors, how to slay dragons (okay, maybe not that), how to break into the Ministry, how to find and destroy horcruxes, and how to essentially thwart Voldemort so many times, he couldn’t think straight.
  • We learned of rebellion from the Order of the Pheonix, when the D.A. formed and we realized that even children can have a chance for agency.
  • We learned to advocate for banishment of slavery and for the better treatment, in every context, because of Hermione’s efforts to improve the house-elves’ conditions. We learned to feel sympathy and to treat with respect those who are less fortunate through Harry’s friendship with Dobby.
  • We learned of tolerance for homosexuality through Dumbledore.
  • We learned that stigmas around diseases like AIDs are arbitrary and useless, that everyone deserves kindness and compassion. We learned that stereotypes can be horrible, and may shun away the best of people. Lupin’s being a werewolf was a metaphor for AIDs, and his exclusion from society represents the treatment most AIDs victims have suffered from when this epidemic began.
  • We learned that racism is horrible. Umbridge’s disgusting attitudes towards giants, centaurs and the like, and her magical equivalent of the racial slur “Filthy half-breeds” (Almost reminiscent of the “N” word) along with the Pureblood/Half-blood/Mudblood categorization is racism in the wizarding world. Growing up cringing and getting angry at treatment of creatures and people in this manner taught us to be more tolerant, less racist. It taught us to be human, to see the person and not the colour.
  • We learned that elitism too is horrible, through the Malfoy/ Weasley example. We see that there is a class divide within the wizarding world, and that though Mr. Malfoy is more vindictive he is higher up in the world and in the Ministry, with contacts galore. We learned as children that money does not necessarily make you a good person. We can learn to feel, if we throw a retrospective, or a closer look back at the series, disgust at systems of inequality like this.
  • We learned also that we shouldn’t judge people based on what they look on the outside because of Hagrid. He may seem like an intimidating figure, particularly to an eight-year old, whether on screen or in print, but he’s really a gentle soul.
  • We learned empathy because we saw in the books that suffering happens, that the good die young that bad things can happen to the best of people. We saw Harry’s life with the Dursleys as an orphan, we saw so much darkness in Voldemort’s regime, we saw the stories and the suffering behind the characters (Sirius and his family, Dumbledore and Ariana and Grindelwald, Snape and how he loved Lily) all of which added more layers of meaning to the characters. We saw the deaths, of Lily’s, of James’, of Lupin’s, of Tonks’, of Sirius’, of Fred’s—
  • But we also learned that hope and “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”Picture credits :(www.linxlover738.deviantart.com)

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