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Reading "Harry Potter" in a Dystopian World

Photo Credit: Dollar Gill

Who doesn’t need a little more magic in their lives right about now? That was my reasoning for picking up the Harry Potter series for the first time ever this year, never having been caught up in the hoopla so many years ago. I did see the first film, and perhaps even the second, though without knowing the characters, I wasn’t immeasurably changed by watching them. In fact I barely remembered the premise when I picked up book one. It was such a long time ago.

But then, there was this time. The time of our media-saturated “C.” I’m not even going to spell it out anymore, it gets way too much attention. I needed inspiration, and decided I wanted to be a big kid again and find magic. So I chose HP.

I loved the stories. I was tickled by the first one. So inventive, I thought. The second flowed right in where the first left off, also charming and funny. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait for the rest of the series, they flowed right into my iPad with a magical flick of my fingers.

Then I noticed the books took a turn with the big world Quidditch event, adding a slew of new characters, more eye-popping marvels, interweaving themes such as elves-under-investigation no less. I did have a hard time when Dolores Umbridge entered the picture. I’m not sure which book that was, they all seem to run together like one expansive book to me.

But the abuse Harry received – it was so stark. Quite Dickensian in its harshness, and then. . . the books got progressively darker. All told though, I was “in it” to the end, and even read the final HP play too, after the conclusion of book seven.

The series worked its magic. I was lifted and inspired.

Which brings me to the point of this piece though: With all the brilliant imagery, I couldn’t help but relate everything in the now-decades-old “HP” world to our current “C” world. It infected my joy. And with that, I made another leap: I couldn’t help but relate the “W” world and the “M” world with the “V” world and “non-V” world of our fraught dystopian universe.

Have you caught that? I’m sticking with single letters. Seems more magical to me that way.

“W” – Wizarding world. “M” – Muggle world. “V” and “non-V?” You can make that magical foray. I know you can.

Which made me consider “S.” And what is “S?” If you’ve been following along so far, you may hazard a guess.

Segregation. The divide between the Wizarding world and the Muggle world of no magic. To say nothing of the Squib world caught between the two worlds, yet oddly connected to both. As contentious as the “W” and “M” groups were with each other, I see a parallel between them and the points of view of our “V” and “non-V” worlds.

So my magical uplift was dimmed by that. This disturbs me, greatly. I can’t see this as magic. I only see it pointing toward all things segregation point to, which can’t be good no matter how many inventive twists and turns there are. “S” points just one way: down.

Then too, that got me to see other parallels, which was inevitable through the “C” lens and about as much fun.

For another thing, the system of “justice” in HP is quite extreme. Dementors with their “kiss,” for example. A starkly evil construct and certainly in the realm of fantasy. A literary exploration of out-and-out soul murder – which can happen in our world too. How? Well, I’m not taking any sides in this, because I believe as Albert Einstein once said, “You can never solve a problem from the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.”

So to attempt a view from above, afar, with a higher lens, let’s say someone loses the right to work over the “V” – care for a family, pay bills, and do all of the nonmagical things that come with the basics of living – that would be another example of – how do I put this kindly – killing life force wouldn’t it? Without the ability to sustain a life through work there’s hardly ever a chance of magic being a part of that world, is there? It would in essence eliminate a person’s pursuit of happiness, not to mention prosperity and basic safety. How can that solve anything, but further degenerate circumstances for an entire population?

I do wonder how private medical decision making became so divisive. It reminded me of when Harry incurred punitive measures for defending himself and protecting his cousin outside of school. In our world, what if someone feels that they are protecting themselves or their children due to their medical history or other personal decision that we’re not privy to. Is that not valid? Mustn’t that be considered, respected? Certainly not vilified?

I do wish we could exercise a bit of magic when it comes to our treatment of each other. I have no idea where all of this is going to lead, but “S” doesn’t seem to be to a good place, and that seems to be coming to the fore now.

My essential understanding is that whether or not one has received the “V” or not received the “V” – either person is on equal footing when it comes to transmitting COVID. So where does that put any of us? Doesn’t that in and of itself eliminate the argument for “S?” I’m open to all life-affirming suggestions.

Whatever the world is doing, one thing I am certain of within all of this is that it is impacting the human spirit and doing severe damage to the human psyche. Be it masking, lockdowns, and other strict measures, I can only think these efforts put the human body under more stress, not less, and healing has a harder time winning the day. And our children! Our sweet innocents. My heart goes out to them. We need to fix this for them, and soon. I don’t want them reading HP with the “C” lens I had. They deserve better. Let’s work our best magic for them now.

Perhaps I got too involved in the story. I do know Harry’s denouement came with a civil war of sorts. To find freedom in his world, he had to face his fears of the enemy, and confront all involved with truth and integrity. But for us? Please, not civil war!

Here’s a thought: Why don’t we drop any invisibility cloaks we’ve been putting over our heads and see how the world is truly doing with all this “C” and “V” stuff. The whole world. Anything that surrounds our understanding of our global community. Let’s listen fully to all opinions of doctors and scientists of renown and expertise. Let’s see what if anything we’re doing right, and what we haven’t a clue about. Let’s listen to all those in every segment of Israel, France, Italy, Australia, Austria, Japan, Gibralter, the UK, Canada – our global community. Let’s be one unified world now. Let’s learn from our collective “C” experience.

And better still: What if we did something radical and just worked some magic of a different kind? Here’s my current magical thinking: What if we just dropped what we’ve been doing, all of it. Let the “C” fall where it may. I don’t feel any better off now, than when all this started. “Cs” have, in the past, typically run their course in twenty-four months, and maybe if we left it alone. . .

I don’t know. . .Too magical? Not magical enough? I’m at a loss, and doing my best to get through. Like everyone I know, I’m saturated with a barrage of depressing news 24/7. In the face of that narrative, it becomes challenging to remember beauty and kindness and healing, and how to love one another beyond any antiquated ideas of segregation and separation.

Harry found a community to help him face the darkness. We can do that too. Heck, we are one community. All the people, the everyday citizens around the globe who don’t see that there is any light in moving forward in the ways we are. Isn’t that all of us now? If we seek out those who lift us, and be one who lifts others, I believe we would feel healing relief by doing so, and be more likely to heal globally too. That’s my ever-present intuition.

I think things may just fall into place. There seems to be such collateral damage this way – and we’re all so weary of it all.

I don’t know about you, but a little undivisive magic seems good right about now. A return to loving kindness and visible good will.

I think we can do it. For the sake of our shared humanity, I truly hope we can.


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