We Are The Harry Potter Generation
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We Are The Harry Potter Generation

The Boy Who Lived continues to shape generations.

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We Are The Harry Potter Generation
BBC America

It has been five years since the final movie released into theaters, and I am still as in love with this world as I was when I began reading when I was 6 years old. The first time I experienced Harry Potter was when I was 3 years old. This moment, I remember like it was yesterday, my brother, who was 12 at the time, had a group of his friends over. They were watching this movie called "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone". At first, I was scared of it, and I ran upstairs to my room. But, three years later, my mom had bought me the first four books and I was immediately hooked. Throughout the past 13 years, I have fought for the Sorcerer’s Stone. I have closed the Chamber of Secrets. I have saved Sirius Black from Azkaban. I have fought in the Triwizard Tournament. I have fought in the Order of the Phoenix. I have found and destroyed the Horcruxes. I have defeated the greatest dark wizard, Voldemort. All of this, I have done alongside Harry and his friends; they have given me a place to go when I feel lost and confused, and when I needed a friend. These lessons have stuck with me, and have shaped my life, and the lives of millions like me.

This Wizarding World has taught me the most about friendship and has brought me closer to those around me. As I read about the relationships between Harry, Hermione, and Ron, my friendship with my own Golden Trio began to mirror those we read together. “Who could forget Dobby, the most loyal friend Harry had, the one who even sacrificed his life to help Harry”. The loyalty that characters like Dobby, Ron, and Hermione had for Harry gave me a blueprint for how to conduct my friendships as I go through life. Harry Potter has made me believe that you are loyal to your friends, no matter how crazy you think they might be. I can particularly credit Hermione Granger for my belief. She knows half the time that the boys need to think through their plans, and she was never afraid to tell them this. In the Sorcerer’s Stone, she says, “Now, I’m going to bed before either of you think of another plan to get us killed or worse expelled”. By saying this, she makes Harry and Ron stop and think about what they have just done, thus making their friendship stronger. One of the biggest lessons I have also learned about friendship is from the Marauders; that friendship is the strongest form of love, and that sometimes your blood family is not necessarily your real family, it might be your friends who are. This is paralleled in Harry and Ron’s relationship, because Harry found family in the Weasley’s, rather than his Aunt and Uncle that he was forced to live with. Overall, the lessons learned about friendship have molded the world, made us closer, and changed the way many people think about their friend’s families.

In our society today, we are witnessing the evolution of the way the Harry Potter generation looks at prejudice, opposing views, and conflict. As it says in a "New York Times" article, “He tries to understand them and appreciate their difficulties, some of which stem from intergroup discrimination, and fights for a world free of social inequalities.” When I was reading the series, I always compared Voldemort to Hitler. I understood from a young age that Voldemort was evil because he hated the Muggle-borns, and wanted them all dead because he wanted to purify the Wizarding World. In my mind, the racism that amazing witches and wizards like Hermione Granger and Lily Potter experienced was extremely wrong, and I felt deeply empathetic for those who had died in order to fight against this prejudice. In an experiment that looked at Italian children’s attitudes towards immigrants, it was found that the children who had read about Draco Malfoy calling Hermione a “filthy little mudblood”, their tolerance towards immigrants had improved rather than the students who had a neutral passage to read. In an interview with Op-talk, Mr. Gierzynski said, “Harry Potter was one of the great cultural events of our generation’s time,” the series “helped raise the children of our generation by instilling in them some of the basic moral conceptions of right and wrong.” I do believe that this generation has more of an empathetic attitude towards people who are different from them, and we have more of a sense for right and wrong. As far as current events go, 9/11 occurred right in the middle of the publishing of the Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire. I believe that JK Rowling was attempting to wrap her head around the changing world, while still attempting to keep the same story line. Now from that, we see an increased amount of death in the last 4 books. In those books, there is an overwhelmingly dark storyline, and the themes have shifted from a school story, to one that truly deals with good vs evil. From growing up in a military family, I found solace in the fact that those who are fighting for freedom are doing the right thing. My 8 year old self saw the US Military as the good guys, and Al-Qaeda as the bad guys. The way that Rowling was able to shift the story lines to target her audience and help a group of people with the amount of terror and tensions in the world shows me that she truly wrote these books to teach lessons, and teach lessons she did.

When I went through the loss of my father in 2012, I searched and searched for the answers to my problems, and to help me cope with the passing. I realized that what I was looking for was in my favorite series, Harry Potter. One quote from Albus Dumbledore has stuck with me till this day, “The ones we love never truly leave us”. This has had an impact on me from a Biblical point of view, and from the series. I know that my dad is in Heaven looking down on me, but at this time in my life I needed something that I hadn't been hearing my entire life. Dumbledore implied that our loved ones stay with us in our hearts, and are there for us when we need them. “As a reader of Harry Potter, which its characters are no stranger to tragedy, was a major aid in understanding what is so heartbreaking about the pain of losing loved ones.” Seeing how the characters in Harry Potter dealt with loss, it helped- and still helps me get through my life and become successful. In some ways, this series has taught me not to fear death because of this quote from Dumbledore, once again, “death is not something to be feared and dodged at all costs, but "the next great adventure.” That is morbid, but Dumbledore does believe that we cannot live our lives in fear of death, but much like the Third Brother, welcome death as an old friend. I am grateful that I have had a book to read has helped me get through this hard time in my life, and feel like I am not alone in my sorrow and depression.

Gryffindors are known for their courage, and the Harry Potter world has no lack of lessons about it. Luna Lovegood taught me not to care what others think, as she was one of the most ‘bullied’ characters in the series, but she never cared, and had Harry as one of her best friends because of it. The Weasley twins also taught me to fight evil with joy. Even through the dark war times, they were always laughing and playing pranks and, fittingly, Fred died whilst laughing during the Battle of Hogwarts. Hagrid showed me that to be there for someone until the very end is one of the most courageous things a person can do. He was the one to deliver a baby Harry Potter to the Dursley’s house the night his parents died, and he was the one to bring Harry to Hogwarts after Voldemort had ‘killed him’. Neville Longbottom also shows us that it takes courage to stand up to friends, but once you do, it means a lot. Samantha Rullo, of Bustle, tells us that these are only some of the themes that have shaped her life and taught her lessons in which she lives her life. With courage, comes bravery. One of the biggest overarching themes in Harry Potter is BE BRAVE, no matter what. Being brave means standing up for what you believe in, no matter how many people are against you. I have had to remember this during the particularly tense political season. Harry Potter might be a children’s book, but it has powerful messages that people of any age can learn from.

No other World has been created in theme parks, where fans can come and be transported into Hogsmeade and Hogwarts. No other author has created an online world where people can go to discover information about themselves, pertaining to their favorite book series, and feel connected. No other series has impacted young people, like myself and my friends, to foster the love of reading. Harry Potter has created the world of fandom, as well. I feel that I can find someone from anywhere in the world, and if they have an interest in Harry Potter, I can talk to them for hours. I have a countless amount of apparel, some stuff I bought when I was little, some stuff from when I was older, but I still feel comfortable wearing it out in public, with pride. In my opinion, Harry Potter is the most influential book of my generation. And in the words of the Boy Who Lived, “Working hard is important, but there is something that matters more: believing in yourself”.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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