Have faith in the Harry Potter generation

By The Beacon | October 3, 2013 12:19am

By Kate Stringer |

You’ve heard it from major news sources, parents and professors alike. We, the millennial generation, are fat, lazy, malicious vampires appointed the task of saving the world from all its misery.

We know. Thanks for the support.

But there’s another characteristic many millennials share that their prestigious ancestry never understood. We were the children who spent recess reading large books about a boy with glasses and a lightning bolt scar. We were the kids moved by words to leap from staircases astride kitchen brooms. We were the teenagers camping outside bookstores and movie theaters for hours (if not days) for admittance into a magical world both drastically different and eerily similar to our muggle universe.

This odd similarity between our two worlds of fiction and reality didn’t fail to leave a scar on our developing adolescent minds, making us a visibly marked generation.

Published last spring, the book “Harry Potter and the Millenials” by University of Vermont professor Anthony Gierzynski, argues that our generation is “more open to diversity; politically tolerant; less authoritarian, less likely to support the use of deadly force or torture; more politically active.”

While I wouldn’t categorize Harry Potter into a specific political category (apart from JK Rowling-worshipers), it is undeniable that the books have profoundly impacted our approach to life.

Loyalty, courage, acceptance, intelligence, forgiveness, altruism, compassion, unconditional love. Rowling wove these themes through 4,100 pages wrought with conflict, prejudice and cruelty. And these themes won’t go ignored as the millennial generation analyzes today’s problems:

22,000 children die each day due to poverty. Our carbon pollution is creating climate changes causing drought, superstorms and wildfires. One billion people are unable to read or write. Violent acts of terrorism worldwide inspire fear and war.

No, these problems cannot be addressed by adolescents whose only concern is with the attractiveness of their latest selfie. But despite magazine covers that argue the opposite, not all of us have this problem.

We are a generation trained by Neville Longbottom that regardless of our popularity, we can incite an undercover army of change against evil.

We are a generation taught by Hermione Granger that education and observation can unlock secret chambers, track down the splintered pieces of Voldemort’s soul and incite a movement for the equal treatment of all people.

We are a generation shown by Harry Potter that love and selflessness are ultimately the demise of violence

We are a generation inspired by the wisdom of Dumbledore, who instructed us that “words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

So make as many lofty conjectures as you desire about the millennial generation. We are a generation enchanted by the words of J.K. Rowling. As the woman herself summed up beautifully, “We don’t need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside.”