Social Responsibility  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , , , ,

With the release of the eighth and final Harry Potter movie this July (Deathly Hallows II), it seemed as if an era had come to a close. My friends and I had grown up with Harry Potter, and I remember eagerly awaiting the release of the last few books and devouring them as soon as they came out. It seemed appropriate to mark the occasion of the last movie's release by going to a midnight showing with a group of friends and dressing up like the nerd that I am. (Nowthat was a fun night.)

I also decided to read the seventh Harry Potter book again, realizing that I missed experiencing the magical feeling of the series. Also, as with any book, there are certain things that become more meaningful or clear when re-reading. This often happens as a result of one's own life experiences, which expand with every day and allow us to see things under a new light.

My favorite character in the series is Severus Snape, so when I see his name, I automatically pay more attention. This time, I zeroed in on the scene in the book where Harry Potter is looking into the Pensieve at Snape's memories towards the end of the book, after Snape has been killed.

Throughout his memories, there seems to be a common theme: Snape as the outsider. From the beginning, when he meets Lily and Petunia, he is shown as a friendless outsider, someone people either just don't want to associate with or actively persecute (such as James Potter and his friends).

There is one memory of Snape's in which he is in Hogwarts, talking to Lily Evans, and she is criticizing him for his choice of friends, whom she describes as "evil." Considering he didn't have any friends before except for Lily, it is interesting to observe that as soon as there is mention of him having friends they are "creepy" and "evil" and wannabe Death Eaters who want to join Voldemort. It's pretty obvious that joining Voldemort would be the first time people like Snape would have a place where they could belong and no longer feel inferior, a tempting opportunity for someone who has always been rejected and made to feel worthless. It's no surprise then when Snape joins the Death Eaters. It is, however, sad that he had to resort to that in order to feel a sense of belonging.

Now, Snape made his own life choices, and I am not denying his culpability. But I am wondering, how differently could things have turned out had his adolescence been a happier one?

And... what are the consequences when we as a society or as a community or simply as a group of friends decide that we have the right to reject someone for whatever reason, to make them feel unwelcome? Why do we fail to realize the effect that that can have on a person, either directly or indirectly in combination with other factors? People are affected by those around them and by what happens to them. Sometimes it takes a while to build up, but even the smallest things can become a part of us. We must be careful with our words and actions, because no matter how unimportant they may seem to us, they may mean a whole lot more to another person.