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What Harry Potter and Emma Watson have taught us

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With the recent, and rather incredible, speech delivered to the UN General Assembly by Emma Watson, I decided that this blog post was going to be about Harry Potter. Now, I have to admit, I have not read all of the Harry Potter books (I know, I know…I plan to remedy that very soon). But what I am talking about is something that is clearly present in the Harry Potter series. The Harry Potter series focuses on several ideas that we could all learn from as a society, nation, and world. Those ideas are reliability, friendship, and equality.

That is what Harry Potter has been teaching kids, and adults, that in life you need to be accountable and people need to be able to rely upon you. Being reliable means so many different things, but the biggest things are that you will be there for someone when you say you will and that you can be counted on when things get rough. Think about it: Hermione and Ron were there for Harry when he needed them, and he for them, Dumbledore was a guiding force for Harry throughout all of his years at Hogwarts, and, no matter how dark the times seemed, Ron, Harry, and Hermione never gave up on one another. They fought for each other every day, they cared about each other. They were there for the good and for the bad.

And that is where friendship comes in. For Harry, Ron, and Hermione, their friendship is what got them through a lot of their difficulties in school. They had each other for support and knew that they would be there when need be. They did not use their friendship as a bargaining chip or just for their own personal gain. Their friendship was genuine. Now I am not saying that you are friends with someone because you get something out of it, but there are always some friendships that start with such beginnings. But the friendships that last for years, the ones that you cherish are like Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s. It is reciprocal, it is fair, and there is a sense of love embedded in it. Harry Potter taught us how to be friends with others and how important friendship is, because without friends, going on an adventure to defeat He Who Must Not Be Named would not be as much fun.

But above all, I think the thing that Harry Potter has taught us is that everyone is equal. The books did not pigeon hole who people were or what they could do. They did not say that “to be a man you have to be big and buff and boss people around.” Rather they said, “a man stands up for his friends and what he believes is right, even if others think he is wrong.” They did not say that women can only do certain things. Hermione was one of the greatest witches at Hogwarts; Professor McGonagall was not limited because she was a woman, having the second highest job next to Dumbledore. The Harry Potter series spoke equality, but they were not naïve in thinking that all welcome in equality. Slytherin was the peak of pigeon holing and telling others what they could or could not do. And I think J.K. Rowling had them for a reason. It wasn’t just to have a group of stuck up, jerks who housed the Dark Lord Voldemort.  I think they were there because not the entire world is going to accept equality, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try. It means that we fight harder for equality, both for men and women. There will always be Slytherins in the world, but there are so many more Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws who want to see the world change for the better.

Emma Watson in her speech, on Sunday, said eloquently, “Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunity….Men, I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation: Gender equality is your issue too.”  Equality is not just a women’s issue. It is not something that can be tucked away in a drawer and never spoken of. Equality is an issue that affects all of humanity. We can either slink back or pretend that everything will get better on its own, or we can make a stand and say enough is enough.

Watch the full video here:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-iFl4qhBsE

So why talk about Harry Potter, reliability, friendship, and equality? What does that have to do with college? To tell you the truth, when I first started writing this I was a little unsure what the point was, but now it is clear to me. In college, you are going to be relied upon and you will rely on others. You will have friends who are there for you; some may only be there for a semester, others for your entire career and beyond. And the biggest, in my opinion, is that equality is not something that you work on after you are out of college, it is something that you fight for now.  Remember what Harry Potter has taught us, and if you are like me and still have a few books to read, well let’s get on that.