Sunday, July 17, 2011
The Lesson of Harry Potter
They live in a world filled with temptation and evil, with short cuts and easy paths. They live in a world filled with disappointments and are easily disillusioned by the failures of those whom they depend upon. They live in a world filled with loneliness and emptiness and their lives are solitary even with all the techno toys that would appear to keep them connected. They live in a world filled with the moment and they feel acutely the pressure to fill that moment, to be doing something all the time, to do several things at the same time, lest the moment pass and they have not used it to the fullest. They live in a world of facts, not fantasy, of play that mirrors real life in often brutal ways (video games). They live in a world of adults and this adulthood is thrust upon them before they have even learned to be a child, to play as a child, to live carefree as a child. They live in a world in which families are broken and wounded and these hurts are passed on to the children and multiplied as families divide.
Is it no wonder they might be captivated by a story of selflessness and sacrifice, of love that is truly willing to bear with and bear for the other? Is it no wonder that they are thrilled with a friendship that lasts for years instead of moments on Facebook, of people who struggle with each other and with themselves but whose ties endure those struggles? It is no wonder that they yearn for good to triumph over evil, for love and friendship, family and truth to win the day?
There are far worse things that our children could be reading -- I read some of them with my own kids as they made their way through high school summer reading requirements. They were tiresome, wearisome, sad, lonely, and pointless stories with no happy endings and no prospect of redemption. Why do we force our children to read such awful things at the very cusp of their entrance into young adulthood? Why do we rob them of every childish pursuit in order to paint their play in adult themes and brutal terms? Why do we make the school the place where information is rampant and values scarce (except responsible choice)? It is not what they want. They want fancy and imagination, hope and promise, truth and sacrificial love, the triumph of good over evil, and, most of all, the redemption of those who lose their way.
I saw the last Harry Potter movie and I was sad -- not because it was not a good movie -- but because as I passed by all the posters of the movies to come I did not see the likes of Harry Potter to come anytime soon. I was sad for myself but most of all for those millions of children who wanted such a story so bad that they picked up those rather large books and plowed their way through in search of a place in their imagination where truth, good, sacrifice, and love count.... Ohhhh that we could give them more of this in reality and not simply in the flight of fiction!