Friday, July 15, 2011

The Harry Potter Generation

Today, the final Harry Potter film was released, making it the final installment of any kind to the Harry Potter series. There is nothing more. No new stories will appear. No more chances for redemption will be provided. Forever cemented into our memories is the story of the brave little trio who survived everything to save the world. This was the story of my generation. This was our story. It found us at the ripe ages of eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen. It kept us anxiously waiting for more stories- for more information. We watched Harry, Ron and Hermione grow and, as we grew, we began to understand their problems. Forever changing alongside us, they became best friends. Refuges. Escapes.

We are a lost generation. Born under the prodigious baby boomers, who have created a war far beyond our understanding; with strong opinions of right or wrong that, when filtered through the ears of the Harry Potter Generation, sound more like subjective interpretations than any kind of youth. The generation behind us is the Technology Generation. The children who grew up in a digitized world, choosing to abandon the sanctuaries of the written word. Children who are unaware of the quiet comfort that comes from turning a page. In between these two distinct groups, we are lost.

I won’t argue for or against JK Rowling’s writing abilities. Maybe you hate it, maybe you don’t. But the truth is, for ten years, she provided a place for us. A place where right and wrong were clear. Where moral ambiguity could be turned into right with a crafty blend of courage and faith. There were adventures, families, love and friendships that were always reliable- even if life failed to provide them for us. Hogwarts was our education. We learned of our mortality. We cried at the hands of typeface. We learned about loss and abandonment. Hopeless and destruction. We learned about rebirth. About the strength of human relationships and of the human spirit. We internalized these lessons so, when faced with a world not of our own creation but one we are inheriting, we know how to approach it hoping that we can muster the same quiet dignity and strength of our friends in the book bindings.

Today, our lessons end. Our teachers leave us to the world and, as we reach the age of action, hope that we have learned enough to effect the change we want to see in the world. They watch us, ever-guiding, as we forge a pass. Fight wars not of our making. Differentiate right from wrong despite muddled explanations and definitions. And we, graduating today, cross our fingers and hope that we have learned enough. Fully conscious that today marks the end of a certain kind of childhood and abruptly launches us into the adulthood we have been so carefully prepared for.

Whether we choose to carry these lessons out in our own reality has yet to be determined but because of Harry, billions of children, adults now, know the decisions that await us. And, when the inevitable hardships come for us, we will always be able to retreat, if just for a moment, to the teachers who helped raise us. The teachers who eternally wait on our shelves, ready with a helping word, even if only words we’ve heard and will continue to hear time and time again. 

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