It seems a new world record has been set for the most people dressed as Harry Potter. Of all the strange things to set records for. But it only serves to prove what a phenomenon it has become.
These children’s books, about magic, and wand waving wizards, of all things. Now an international sensation.
Well, I’ll tell you why.
Because they’re not just books that you thumb through and forget about.
They shaped the lives of millions of people.
We opened a book, an entire generation of children and adults alike, and found a story about an ordinary boy, who got an extra ordinary letter. Maybe he’s not so ordinary after all.
He got a letter to go to Hogwarts, the greatest wizarding school in history, and we were all excited to go with him. A fresh eyed boy pushed into a whole new world. A magical one.
He shops in an alley full of magical shops, he boards a train on a platform that isn’t supposed to exist, and he’s at Hogwarts. He’s finally home.
Where he learns not only about magic, but about friendship, loyalty, courage, bravery, a little bit of stupidity and sheer dumb luck. He beats a troll, becomes a quidditch legend, passed through a seemingly impossible puzzle set by the most intelligent witches and wizards in the country to meet He who must not be named. (He who must not be named being the invincibly powerful antagonist of our story, the most powerful dark wizard the world had seen)
And Harry prevailed.
An eleven year old boy, who does all these things not because he had extra ordinary powers, but because he wasn’t alone.
Forget Newton’s laws and the Pythagorean theorem. For here we learned the rules of life.
That there are far more important things- friendship and bravery.
Help will always be given to those who ask for it.
It is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.
Love. Love is what makes the world go around.
As we grew up with this eleven year old nothing special boy, we laughed and loved and made friends. We learnt how to fly and how to travel by Floo powder. We cast patronuses. We learnt to stand up to our fears (riddikulous, really). We learnt to be merciful, to be fair, to be generous. We learnt how to love people different from us, be they giants or elves, or a little cracked in the head.
He saved Ginny, rescued a hippogriff, freed his godfather of dementors, won a tournament, fought off death eaters, destroyed horcruxes and saved the world. Of course.
But he wasn’t a superhero. He wasn’t a god. He wasn’t special in any way. He just did it without giving up. Without losing hope.
He showed us by example that we could all achieve extra ordinary heights, because all you have to do is be the change. Be brave enough to believe You Know Who is out there, even when nobody else will. Because Harry Potter didn’t hide behind more powerful people, he got up and faced his destiny.
We learnt big things and little things. The power of laughter. The beauty of a happy thought. The joy of breaking rules. The love of friends and family. That what mattered was not your face, but you. That you would be okay even if you turned into a monster once a month, because you had friends with you. The bitterness of misunderstanding. The loss of a misled youth. The pain of losing a loved one.
This book was a landmark, because its influence was phenomenal. It held sway over generations. And at the core of it all, it was simple.
The power of love and friendship.
Because what else in the world matters really?
So today, as we cross 20 years of Harry Potter, we acknowledge one of the best things to happen to our childhood.
Thank you, JKR. You gave us a place to go when we needed a little magic in our lives. And we always came back and woke up to the actual magic in ours.
And yes, you could ask, after all this time?