There are, thankfully, a number of people in my life who understand my deep and abiding love for all things Harry Potter. One of them is my little friend Ethan. He’s 8, and we can geek out over HP stories with the best of them. Last week, Ethan used Legos to make Dumbledore, a Ministry of Magic member, the Elder wand, and a Gringotts goblin (I realize if you are not HP-familiar I may have just lost you, but hang with me).
And as he showed me all these new creations, so very excited to do so, I thought, “Sweet kid…I wish so much your life could always just be the goodness that is Harry Potter.”
Sort of like when my own darling Curly Girl said me this weekend, “Mommy, I want so much, next summer, to get my letter from Hogwarts and find out I am not a Muggle after all.” I’m pretty sure she isn’t kidding.
Here’s the thing about the world J.K. Rowling so brilliantly created: it’s what we all want. Belonging–no matter what house we get sorted into. Ride or die friendships. A common goal. The triumph, always, of good over evil. It’s real. It’s raw. And it speaks to the core of everything we long for as human beings. And it does so in a way that first and foremost reminds us that all is never lost. That love wins. Again and again and again.
Y’all, I am so, so tired. Deep in my bones tired, of the ways we continue to destroy one another as individuals, and ourselves as a community, in this country. Our internet age continues to mean misinformation, propagated hate and cruel attack. We’ve lost any collective sense of decency and respect and I have reached a point where scrolling through my social media feeds causes my stomach to roil. And it isn’t limited to one side or the other. Not by a longshot.
Compassion fatigue. It’s a thing–and I have it. There are so many things breaking my heart these days I can’t even get my head around what my response is supposed to be to it all. Whether it’s race or natural disaster or healthcare or what ever other fresh new hell pops up each morning…it’s all so damn angry and raw and reactionary. And again and again we’re seeing that power corrupts and money talks and division is the name of the game. Daily, we find new reasons to separate ourselves from each other in this country and we are killing ourselves. Slowly, but surely, we are losing any sense of what it means to be connected to and dependent upon one another’s wellbeing. And, as always happens when this is the reality, the least among us are bearing the worst of the burden.
It’s no wonder Harry Potter is again surging in popularity…and Wonder Woman has raked in more money at the box office than any super hero film in over a decade…and the Justice League movie is already garnering attention…and the countdown is on to the next Star Wars story.
Fantasy has become our hope, y’all.
(Sidenote: For those of us who are people of faith, this is, perhaps, even more telling. I’ll be the first to tell you that I think the Gospel is to be found in both Star Wars and Harry Potter, but what does it say that, more often than not, these stories are teaching our children more about unconditional love and true community than they often learn in their house of worship/prayer/faith?)
For my girl, for my precious niece and nephew, for my friend Ethan, for all their peers, I want a world much more like the one Hogwarts is in than the one they are currently becoming of age in. This is the simple truth. And that both terrifies me (because Hogwarts isn’t real in any empirical sense) and gives me hope (because there is Truth to be found in its existence, even if only in books and movies).
Sadly, it doesn’t look I’ll be headed to platform 9 3/4 any time soon. So, for now, and as has always been, my only sanity is found in individual relationship. Because this is where I see difference being made. Lives being changed. Hope being restored. One exhaustingly and frustratingly tiny baby step at a time.
That doesn’t mean not speaking up. That doesn’t mean not taking chances. That doesn’t mean not making it clear that I believe that we are all, no matter what, each of us, full and equal human beings, with the same loves and longings, the same rights due us, the same blood in our veins.
It does mean listening more. Reacting less. Trying to get at the heart of what divides us so. Using statements like, “All (these people) act in (this way)” far less. Because not all Democrats act/believe the same way. Nor do all Republicans. Nor do all Christians. Or Muslims. Or black people. Or white people. Or immigrants.
We have got to get this through our impossibly thick skulls. After all, any true Harry Potter fan will tell you, not even Severus Snape was who anyone thought he was; and, not even the Malfoys acted like the rest of Voldemort’s crew, even if that wasn’t obvious until the very end, when they realized all that was at stake. And for them, there was grace to be had.
Like there is for all of us. Even in the midst of all the rage and deceit and injustice…grace. And the belief I stake my life on–that goodness is more powerful than any word hate can speak, if we’d just pay enough attention to see it at work among us.
Y’all, we’re at a fork in the road. And, for me, it isn’t so much about choosing sides of history as it is working together to forge paths that will take us into a way that recognizes us all for the beautiful children of God that we are. And makes way for the kind of peace we say we dream about. Because I feel like if we could just start there–start with seeing God in one another, no matter how hard it might be, we’d be closer to truth and mercy and love.
Because, as Dumbledore would say, “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”
That’s what I want. To aim together. And to do so with a heart wide open to what might be.