So this weekend I took my two Potter fans to see part 1 of the last installment of the series. It was thrilling for them, and, um, emotional for me.
There are many tear-worthy moments in the film, but the one that got me all verklempt was at the start (which meant my eyes burned with unshed tears for over two hours). Harry stands in the empty Dursley house, staring into his old room, the cupboard under the stairs. It's empty, except for some left behind items, namely the toy soldiers Harry played with when he thought that the world was a very small place. The cupboard that once seemed cramped now appears absolutely tiny, meant for a mouse. The look on Harry's face was full of meaning. He was mourning his passing youth, yes, but at the same time reflecting on everything that had come to pass. Would he exchange everything that had happened to reclaim that young boy's innocence? The answer was definitely, no.
What would have happened to that little boy, had he not been shaped by the love and friendship of good people? How would he have turned out without mentors to guide him, to tell him his life had meaning?
J.K. Rowling, genius that she is, gives the answer to us in Voldemort. By shirking our responsibility to the young, we risk raising selfish monsters who make the world a very dark place. Friendship and loyalty and integrity are meaningful and lasting, and brighten the world like the tip of Hermione's wand.
The Deathly Hallows illustrates all of these ideas coming full circle. Our Harry has grown up. And so have we.