Disclaimer: JK Rowling is not my favourite person right now. I don’t agree with her recent essay on her (harmfully simplistic and inaccurate) views on sex and gender. I found this video explained why really well if you are interested. I do, however, love the Harry Potter franchise, a world I grew up with and found solace in many a time. Hence the title.
*SPOILER ALERT* I ruin the ending of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. But to be honest, if you haven’t seen it by now then you probably deserve this.
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.” – Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
These words may be some of Dumbledore’s most famous. He utters them in a lovely scene at the end of the first Harry Potter film, right before awarding Neville Longbottom 10 points for being so brave in standing up to his friends who were breaking Hogwarts rules. The whole school then goes on to cheer and congratulate Neville, including the 3 protagonists who he was trying to stop! So everyone is happy, the good house wins, and no one resents anyone for getting petrifies-totalus-ed or for trying to sabotage the defeat of Voldemort.
After a long day at work, I found this exact scene swirling around my mind. And only now am I realising how unrealistic the ending to this film actually is! Not because three first-years managed to defeat the most powerfully evil wizard in history. Or because this evil wizard managed to escape somehow without a body. Not even the fact that these magical beings live among us muggles without us knowing. No. Because Neville Longbottom is still friends with Hermione, Ron and Harry!
So this guy wakes up in the middle of the night to find his three classmates up to no good. He attempts to reason with them, explaining that they need to stop losing Gryffindor house points. And you know what his three mates do? They cast a body-binding spell on him and leave him there on the floor for who knows how long. Outrageous.
Today I had to stand up to some people because they wanted to do something unethical. I wanted no part in it, so I spoke up. It was difficult. It was uncomfortable. It may have been brave. But it was definitely stupid. Standing up to authority figures will often lead to the same place that Neville found himself – paralysed on the floor. After I stood up to them, I found myself sitting on my bedroom floor feeling violated. I didn’t like being put in a position where it was expected that I would go along with something so blatantly unethical. Something that was ultimately wrong.
And you know what?
There is no Dumbledore to give me 10 extra points for being brave. Nope. Unfortunately, when you’re not featuring in a children’s book, you don’t always get rewarded for doing the right thing. Instead, you get awkward conversations. You get certain people avoiding you. Worst of all, you realise how many people, in positions of authority I might add, are more than willing to turn a blind eye to moral codes in order to make their own lives easier. To be honest, I don’t really get why they do it. Maybe I’m too naive to understand it, despite trying my whole life to stop seeing things so black and white. I try to understand the intricacies of complex situations. But ultimately, this is how I am wired. I can’t change the fact that I have strong principles. Sometimes I really wish I didn’t. Do you know how much easier my life would be if I could stop myself from standing up to mean bosses? If I could stop myself from standing up to drunk strangers in the street? If I could stop myself from standing up to judgmental family members?
It’s probably time for me to stop expecting 10 points from a magical gay old man every time I show this “bravery“.
Or maybe I should award myself 10 points instead!
Honestly, I don’t know.
I just know that I would have so many more positive, albeit superficial, relationships with people in my life if I stopped being a Neville. I wonder how much Neville actually liked those three. I bet he secretly resented them. In which case, maybe I should carry on as I am.