Recently, I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And as I was reading, there was one part of the book that really stuck out to me. It was a brief conversation between Harry and a portrait of Dumbledore. It goes something like this:
"Harry: I need your help. I need your advice. Bane says Albus is in danger. How do I protect my son, Dumbledore?
Dumbledore: You ask me, of all people, how to protect a boy in terrible danger? We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come.
Harry: So I'm supposed to stand and watch?
Dumbledore: No. You're supposed to teach him how to meet life." ("Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", 112)
And this brief, four line conversation, was able to inspire a mountain of thought in me. Who are Harry and Dumbledore, really? Are they the student and the teacher? The lost and the found? The right and the wrong? Or are they just people who are just doing their best to move through life, figuring it out as they go, and making lots of mistakes?
Dumbledore has always been someone that I've viewed as incredibly wise and who can be trusted. And he is that. But I think the things that have stood out the most about Harry and Dumbledore through the years is that neither of their lives are perfect, or really even good. Dumbledore's father attacked three muggles [non-magic folk] and died in prison, and his mother and sister's died not much later. Even his relationship with his surviving brother, Aberforth, was strained because of these pain-riddled events in his past.
Dumbledore's life experiences were not by any way easy. And, neither were Harry's. Both had lost their parents at a young age and both felt the pain of those experiences. But they grew from it. Their experiences, which could've easily transformed them into angry people, didn't. Harry probably would've become that angry person if Dumbledore hadn't been involved in his life. Albus Dumbledore didn't shield Harry Potter from danger or the pain. He knew that he couldn't. He didn't want Harry Potter to have to feel that pain, no one should have to. But he knew that Harry must experience the pain and the sorrow and the hardships and the hurt, in order to grow and become the person that he would be. A person experiencing grief, must experience it. A person experiencing pain, must experience it. A person experiencing hardship, must experience it. It's not just something you can skirt around or block out, pretending it's not there. And, if you deny a person from feelings the feelings that must be felt in order to heal, you are causing much more harm than could be done otherwise.
In Dumbledore's words, "Pain must and will come," which can definitely be frightening. But Dumbledore isn't saying that they need to go through it alone. In fact, he says quite the opposite. "Teach [them] to meet life." Isn't that what we should be teaching people? Not that you have to always be smiling and laughing to be joyful and loving. Not that everything has to go smoothly all the time. But simply, to meet life.
A while ago, one of my close friends spoke to me and a group of others on this subject. She explained to us that you can be sad and feel pain and not know what to do with your life, and still be joyful. Joy has nothing to do with happy. And happy has nothing to do with joy. We should feel the feelings we have. Take the roller coaster that life is. Get the help we need. Harry and Dumbledore are a great example of this concept. In both of their lives, they are somehow able to maintain the knowledge of what love is and still were able to apply it to their lives even through the horrible and painful loss in their lives. In the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Dumbledore speaks to Harry and says, "Your mother died to save you. If there is one thing that Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn't realize that love as powerful as your mother's love for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign... to have been loved so deeply, even though the person to have loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever."
And he's right. The only thing that separates Voldemort and Harry Potter is love. Tom Riddle [Voldemort] was never destined to become who he did. It was never some fate that was proclaimed and that there was no way around. Tom Riddle just never knew love, and wasn't able to accept it. And so, he became angry and power-driven, perhaps looking for something in his life that he's missing. Tom Riddle had no one come up beside him. Voldemort is not evil. He is broken. And that brokenness manifests itself into evil.
So, my point is, don't try to shield people from the pain and the hurt. One way or another they'll feel it. So instead, help them 'meet life'. To understand the pain and the discomfort. To feel it, know it, and ultimately, let go of it.