June 26, 2017, was the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the original UK release. Potterheads from all corners of social media came together to celebrate this magical date. From sharing memories of midnight book releases to discussing favorite characters, Twitter and Facebook was filled with Potter nostalgia. My favorite hashtag to arise from this trip down memory lane is #PotterTaughtUs.
#PotterTaughtUs has been used to share all the lessons this series has given to its readers. From the joys of reading to the importance of acceptance, Harry Potter has bestowed valuable life lessons on not just children but readers of all ages. Children who have read Harry Potter have even shown greater signs of tolerance towards ostracized groups than those who have not. Of course, I don’t need a study to tell me how much the books and their writer have taught me.
Back in April I told you about Rowling’s influences on me as a writer and a person. I could fill an entire book with how Rowling and her work have molded me. The most important lessons that the books have taught me, though, are to have compassion for everyone and that you are never truly alone.
“Though we may come from different countries and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one.“ –Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
All the most-loved characters in this series are outcasts. Luna Lovegood is pleasantly bizarre; Hermione is a bookworm and a Muggle-born; Ron is the youngest of six boys and comes from a poor “blood traitor” family; Ginny is the only girl out of seven children and is a tough, smart, pretty girl at that; Hagrid is half-giant; Remus is a werewolf; Sirius holds very different views from his family and is an escaped, falsely-accused prisoner; Tonks and her mother were disowned; Neville is shy and nervous and lives with his grandmother; even Draco, the rich pureblood, is an outcast because he does not belong with the Death Eaters or outside of them. And, yes, Harry Potter is different from everyone because he is marked for greatness.
With all of these beloved characters treated as outcasts, it is only natural that avid readers of Harry Potter feel a special connection with so-called “misfits.”
Connecting ostracized characters with the “good” side and prejudice with the “bad” side helps readers to subconsciously form the opinion that prejudice is not acceptable. In showing the struggles of people going through such prejudice–Hermione’s struggles with being called a “mudblood,” for example–Harry Potter readers grow the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and develop compassion for ostracized groups, people whom they may not feel a connection to otherwise.
I probably had a predisposition for compassion for ostracized groups given my upbringing. My mother always taught me that a human is a human, no matter their religion, race, sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity, nationality, etc., and Disney has helped to reinforce her lessons. Still, the influence of Harry Potter is undeniable.
“I enjoyed the meetings, too. It was like having friends.” –Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
Out of everything #PotterTaughtUs, my favorite has to be that no one is ever truly alone.
Harry, who felt alone among the Dursleys and the Muggle world, finds true friends in Hermione and Ron and learns that his dead loved ones are still with him. Luna is one-of-a-kind and an outsider but finds her place among Harry and his friends. Remus, although timid and a werewolf, finds love both in friends and in Tonks. Even Draco has his parents, and at least his mother loves him no matter what. In the end, the only ones who are alone are those who deny love and its power.
If you lose loved ones to death or distance, their love is still with you and will always stay with you. You just need to remember that they’re there and you will feel them. If you ever feel isolated and like you can’t connect with anyone, you only need to prevail. The friends and family you deserve are out there. So long as you don’t give up, you will find them and then, like Harry and his friends and family (and his friends who are emotionally his family), you will get your “all was well.”
I’m still looking for mine but, thanks to many people who have entered my life in the past few years, I think I’m getting closer each day.
Happy anniversary to this beloved series. It has so much more to teach us. Please, go read or re-read these books and discuss in the comments what you think #PotterTaughtUs.