In December we went to Orlando to see Larry’s family. We did something we had never done before: visited a theme park. We took an extra day and decided to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m a big fan of Harry Potter. I’ve read all the books and own the DVDs. We watched some of them to prepare for our expedition. I have to say here that I generally avoid overly commercial forms of entertainment. For Harry Potter world, however, I made an exception.
You need a lot of money at Harry Potter World. Everything has a price. First there is the entrance fee, and the parking. Then there are the lines and the waits. That costs too, not in money but in the diminishment of your enjoyment as you spend valuable time in line rather than having fun. It’s all in the name of capitalism. But despite these inconveniences, Harry Potter has something for everyone. In the pages of the books you find themes of friendship, loyalty, good and evil, life and death, love, laughter, and adventure.
Clearly the life of the average teenager today is far different from that of Hogwarts students. While they are studying chemistry and English, the kids at Howarts are in potions class and learning how to protect themselves from the Dementers and He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
I started this post a few weeks ago and never finished it. That’s probably good, because I didn’t know where to go with it. Now I do. Last weekend America woke up to the nightmare that we had all convinced ourselves would never happen. The so-called Muslim AKA travel ban became the rule of the land, and immigrants were persona non grata. The world is now full of enemies. Differences are no longer accepted and embraced. Muggles not welcome.
The cost of freedom is getting higher by the day. Things we had taken for granted, like equal treatment and free speech are now being questioned. The United States is a country of immigrants who came to our shores because they could not exercise freedom of religion at home. Layered on all of this is our history of being a refuge for people seeking safety and fleeing from oppression. My ancestors fled discrimination to begin a new life here. Their story is not uncommon. We have always gained strength from diversity.
You place too much importance… on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognize that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be! ~J.K. Rowling, “The Parting of the Ways,” Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000, spoken by the character Albus Dumbledore
Fear is a scary emotion. It’s the kind of emotion that totalitarian regimes use to keep people under control. Unlawful detentions, enemies lists and the like are not the kind of things you would expect in the U.S. The later Harry Potter books are full of literal witch hunts as those with magical powers take sides, either with the side of Dumbledore or with the Death-Eaters and their leader.
In Diagon Alley all are welcome. Anyone who needs a place to rest their weary feet will find a bed at the Leaky Cauldron. Hogwarts doesn’t ask you if you are muggle-born or not. The only test for entry is to have magical powers. Hermione, the muggle-born, and Ron, who has two magical parents receive equal treatment. Only the Death-Eaters look for differences and seek to separate people. In the last Harry Potter book The Ministry of Magic separates suspicious witches and wizards from the so-called “purebloods”.
In an earlier post I said that life was starting to feel like an episode of the TV series House of Cards. Now I think we are about to enter the world of George Orwell’s book 1984. It used to be required reading for most high school students. When the actual year came and went we barely noticed. For those of you who do remember 1984, it did not have a happy ending. The world of Big Brother controls everything. Protest is not allowed. Submission is demanded.
Democracy only lives and breathes if its citizens remember that it needs to be nourished. Harry Potter and his friends fought to the death to protect their wizarding world. In the end He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named was defeated. Each of us has to make the same choice: to fight or remain silent. I used my knitting needles and my feet as a form of protest. Now I am calling my congressman and senator to express my views. This is only the beginning, I am afraid. What will you do?
Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it. ~J.K. Rowling, “The Parting of the Ways,” Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000, spoken by Albus Dumbledore