6 Lessons We Learned From Harry Potter

The first Harry Potter book was published on June 26th 1997, and from that day on, became a huge phenomenon, being adapted to movies, video games, a theater play, theme parks, and so on. Many kids dreamed of being a student in Hogwarts, becoming friends with Harry, Ron and Hermione and living adventures every day.

Even though it seems like their reality is far away from ours, many of the situations are a reflection of our society, and we can learn valuable lessons from the story and the characters.

1. We choose our family

Image Source: IMDb

After Harry’s parents were killed, Dumbledore decided to leave him with his aunt and uncle, but the boy lived a miserable life for years until he found out he was a wizard. He slept in the cupboard under the stairs, only wore his cousin’s old clothes and had to deal with constant humiliation day after day.

When Harry finally found the truth about his powers and went to Hogwarts, his life completely changed, as he made friends, was warmly embraced by the Weasley family and, for the first time, felt like he was home.

Many kids in the real world live in abusive households or get rejected by their families just for being who they really are, similar to what Harry went through. But they need to see that family is more than just the people you share blood with. Family is made by those who make you feel good about yourself and are always there to support you.

2. It’s important to respect the differences

Image source: IMDb

Muggle-borns are wizards with non-magical parents. People who have this trait, besides being constantly discriminated by pure-bloods, are also Voldemort’s main target, as he believes they’re inferior and not worthy of magic.

Hermione, a muggle-born, proves that she belongs to the magical world just as much as any other pure-blood, such as Draco Malfoy, who picks on her for what she is, even calling her a “mudblood”, a very deprecatory name. The girl is described as the brightest witch of her age, and has an impressive knowledge about the wizarding world, disproving any supremacist theory against the muggle-born.

Another example can be found in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, when we are presented to Luna Lovegood, an eccentric student that loves pudding and is always talking about nargles, even though no one knows what they are. She is called Looney by her colleagues and is often made fun of for her uniqueness.

Image Source: IMDb

However, if they overcame their prejudice against her, they would see a sweet, smart girl who has a lot to offer. Harry was one of the few people who was open-minded and started a friendship with her, and Luna showed herself to be not only a true, great friend, helping him deal with death and grief, for example, but she also led him to one of the Horcruxes.

3. Fantasizing is important, but you also need to live the real world

Image source: IMDb

In the first book/movie, Harry finds the Mirror of Erised (Desire, if you read it backwards), a magical artefact that reveals somebody’s deepest desires. When the boy looks at it, he sees himself reunited with his family, and gets fascinated by the possibility of seeing them again.

Dumbledore, however, notices that Harry gets too hooked on a false reality that he will never fulfill, and advises him that “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live”.

If we take this situation to our universe, we can see that social media plays the part of the mirror, as it seems like an environment where everything is perfect. We know the world doesn’t work like that, but just like Harry, we always try to achieve this unrealistic way of life, and in many occasions stop living reality.

4. The world is not black and white

Image Source: IMDb

Even though the whole plot is based on Harry versus Voldemort, there isn’t a clear distinction between good and bad, right and wrong. The Harry Potter universe doesn’t rely only on manicist conceptions, since the characters show a complexity that goes beyond just being labeled as the hero or the villain.

Dumbledore, for example, who is frequently portrayed as the typical wise old man of fantasy stories, actually carries a really dark past that involves an insatiable thirst for power and a sincere friendship with Gellert Grindelwald, one of the most feared wizards of all times.

Another character is Draco Malfoy, who, despite being Harry’s arch-rival at Hogwarts and often showing a petty behaviour, lives with an intense internal conflict, and it’s evident that most of the cruelty he commits in the name of the Dark Lord are against his will, showing that dividing the world between good people and bad people is too simplistic.

As Sirius Black would say: "We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are".

5. We need to question authority

Image Source: IMDb

The Order of the Phoenix, in my view, is the book/movie with the most evident political content, since it tackles on very important issues, such as press manipulation and authoritarianism.

When Harry and Dumbledore claim that Voldemort had returned, Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic, in order not to undermine his government, tries to discredit them at every cost through the Daily Prophet, publishing lies and damaging their reputation.

Besides, he nominates Dolores Umbridge to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, and she is instructed not to give practical lessons to the students, as the Minister was afraid they would use what they learn to overthrow him. This attitude motivated the creation of Dumbledore’s Army, an organization led by Harry, Ron and Hermione to teach their colleagues the skills the Ministry refusing to teach and prepare themselves for Voldemort’s return.

When Umbridge took over the position of headmaster at Hogwarts and practically established a dictatorship at the school, Dumbledore’s Army became the main opposition force against her authoritarian behavior, that even included physical and psychological violence with teachers and students. The resistance, especially Fred and George Weasley, would constantly break the rules and play tricks on her, in order to make her life a living hell and weaken her power over them.

6. Love is the most powerful magic

Image Source: Giphy

Well, this lesson is probably a bit overused, and everyone knows about it, but considering that nowadays our society is dominated by hate, I think it’s important to always reinforce this topic.

It’s in the name of love that Snape practically became Harry’s guardian angel. The affection he cultivated for Lily even after her death made him keep trying to be a better person. He started working for Dumbledore as a double agent, saved Harry’s life in numerous occasions from the moment the boy started attending Hogwarts, and even guided him to the Sword of Gryffindor through his patronus - which is the same as Lily’s.

Moreover, Harry only became The Boy Who Lived because of love. The affection Lily Potter had for her child was so powerful that she was willing to protect her baby at every cost and sacrificed herself for him when Voldemort went to their house in Godric’s Hollow, so not even the deadliest spell was enough to surpass the power of love.