Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Harry Potter: A Hero for our times
Harry Potter is written in modern times but it's actually a very old story.
In the series the hero, Harry and company live in the 1990s and yet the themes that infuse these books come from out of a chivalrous past (chivalry being the hall mark of the Gryffindor House to which Harry belongs at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry).
Loyalty, bravery, sacrifice, taking responsibility and self discipline are other significant themes. Lots of qualities that are not given much value in our harried times. An old fashioned love of family. Have you noticed there are no single parents, no divorced couples? Interesting. People get married very young, don't they and they stick together.
Again and again, i have to remind myself that these characters are modern day folk.
Yet they write to one another other on pieces of parchments- not though text messaging, or email-how intimate.
They live in community, the sort that is sustainable,vibrant, exciting and diverse- where all kinds of witches and wizards mingle with other magical beings.
Take the vibrant and colourful streets of Diagon Alley or Hogsmead.The author, J K Rowling glories in the eccentric, reveling in their differences and distinctions. The environment is one in which young people aspire to become like their elders-full fledged powerful adults with real skills to offer rather than the adults striving to be like the young .
The teachers are mentors, teaching kids things they need to know in order to become wizards. They look up to them because they need them- the expectations are clear.
In our Muggle (non magical) world on high speed everything, children sense our utter confusion as adults. They know that we do not know where we are heading. When it comes to technology our kids often know more than we do!
Is it any wonder that the appeal of Harry Potter and co is so magical? Old and young alike, we seem to be pinning for this stuff-lapping up the books and movies hungrily.
It's the need again for purpose in our lives, for excitement and yes, danger.
Confronting fear, overcoming challenges and 'keeping going' when the going gets tough.
I often think about climate change and it's repercussions as the big 'Voldermort' of our time. That's the darkness we have to challenge, younger and older alike.
Voldermort is a metaphor for the evil that is overtaking the world. Minister Fudge is ever in denial- a parody of what many people today cannot face; he refuses to believe Voldermort has risen. We refuse to believe climate change is here.
Will we be the brave wizards and witches that confront climate change? Will there be leaders like Harry; wedded to Voldermort as we are to climate change- we caused it-willing to turn it around?
Who will sacrifice herself or himself as Snape does? Who will be prepared to go to the end; to die as Hary was prepared to do in order for others to have a viable future?
These are the values that live on and that many of us long for-instead of consumerism and greed,peer pressure and entertainment land.
The world needs more Dumbledores, more Herminones more Rons. And we could use a Harry-every movement loves a hero.