Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Harry Potter

In honor of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 here’s what seven books and eight movies have taught us over the years:

No Matter How Fabulous You Are, Some People (Including Blood Relatives) Won’t Like You

How can they spare affection for Harry when they have Diddykins?

Let’s face it.  If Harry Potter himself can’t win over everyone in the world, why should you expect to?  There will always be people who don’t get you, don’t appreciate you, and quite often they’ll share your DNA.

No Matter How Well You Think You Know Someone, There’s Always A Hidden Side

Sometimes we get lucky enough to see behind the mask.  Most often, we don’t.  But everyone around us is the star of their own dramatic backstory, the heroics of which we may never know.

You Have To Take Your Lumps

Every single book, Harry faces a time when he’s publicly misunderstood.  Whether it’s his supposed fame-seeking nature or Ron’s jealousy or the POTTER STINKS campaign, Harry meets his share of public criticism and even ostracism with great dignity.  He doesn’t expect his life to be perfect, nor does he believe the world owes him anything.  Yet at the same time, he never becomes bitter or unable to accept kindness.  It’s a difficult balance, yet he pulls it off.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Long before the final book’s release, I wondered how anyone could consider Snape a villain.  Look at him shielding the kids from werewolf-Lupin.  Would a villain do that?

At the same time, I’ve always been mystified at how Voldemort won many followers.  Sure, he promises power, riches, etc.  But all he deals is pain and death.  Occasional sweet words mean nothing.

Be Careful How You Treat Others

Sirius Black died because he casually, unthinkingly tormented Kreature for years, while the evil sisters Narcissa and Bellatrix always treated the house elf kindly.  Treating people with contempt is a recipe for disaster.

Friends Are Everything

They say friends are the family you choose for yourself.  Harry’s friends pull him through again and again.  He may not be the smartest guy around, but he’s friends with the cleverest witch there is.  He may not come from a happy and loving home, but thanks to his buddy Ron, he can enjoy one whenever he wants.  Neville, Luna, Hagrid, Lupin, Sirius, Fred, George, Ginny … so many people Harry could never do without, and he chose them all.  The wider the circle, the better off you are.

Love Is More Powerful Than Death

Maybe the theme sounds a little lame written out, but there it is.  Tom Riddle went through a great deal to avoid death; Harry walked forth and faced it like a man.  The result?  Voldemort was annihilated and Harry prevailed.  Love spared Harry in the crib; love motivated Snape to watch over him for years; love gave all our heroes, not just Harry, the strength to stand up to evil.  Many of the epic stories boil down to this: Lord of the Rings, His Dark Materials, Chronicles of Narnia, and classic books like A Wrinkle in Time.  As a famous letter-writer once observed, “Love never fails.”  In the Harry Potter series that sentiment is proven all over again.

2 thoughts on “Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Harry Potter

  1. You did a masterful job on this! I love a quote I read yesterday, comparing two series for young people, from our old buddy Steve-o. I cannot find the exact quote now, dammit, but the point was that Harry Potter is about facing your fears, and becoming a better person, and Twilight is about the importance of having a boyfriend. You took it a step further and pointed out all the lessons, and it's awesome!

  2. Upon re-reading this, I realize that I forgot the most important thing I needed to say. As one of my oldest friends, you are still the one I go to for advice, support, and comfort. I am so grateful that I chose you to be in my life, and have continued to do so these many years.

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