A Father’s Perspective

by Hal Hanson

I love the books and universe that JK Rowling has established. Nevertheless, as a 44 year-old father of 5, my mind wants to take on the parental role, and I wish that I could have a few words with Harry over a banana split on a Sunday afternoon. I understand that Harry’s not having a father figure in his life is one of the basic themes of the series, but this has not stopped my mind from going along this road.

This is the moment that Harry most needs a little direction and tough love to help him understand and accept some of the difficult truths of life. Emotional maturity is just learning and applying a few lessons. However, these lessons are much more difficult to master than any of Snape’s potions. But they are lessons that have to be learned by everyone.

So, imagine we are on the back porch where the rest of the world is absent.

Harry, bad things sometimes happen to good people, and good things sometimes happen to bad people.

I don’t know why Sirius died, and you are alive. I don’t know why Draco Malfoy and his family seem to have the best of this life, and Ron Weasley and his family struggle. There isn’t always a reason. We can’t always control everything. Life just sometimes is the way it is.

But, nothing ever got done or made better by sitting around a table crying and complaining. Have your cry, yell at the world, and then let go of it. Let go of the anger and the self-doubt. (Yes, it is true that we choose to hold on to both of these items. Choose instead to let them go!)

We do the best we can with the hand that is dealt to us.

Your decision to go to the Department of Mysteries was not a bad decision. Voldemort systematically removed all of your important supports from you. Yes, he managed to fool you. But you managed to disrupt his plan, and keep him from some critical information. You also alerted the world to his current state.

That is not to say that you did not make a bad decision. Your bad decision was to ignore the good advice you were receiving to learn Occlumency. If you had followed that advice, then Voldemort would not have been able to influence you.

Harry, you need to be humble and teachable. Dumbledore really does know what he is talking about. Learn Occlumency, like he has asked you to. Follow his other suggestions. There will be a time when you will have to make decisions by yourself; decisions that will be contrary to the advice that you are being given. Let me give you the key for knowing when to follow, and when to break with, the good advise that you are receiving.

When your motivation for opposing good advise from trusted sources is based on your personal desire to “see what is behind a door”, or satisfy some other personal whim, then follow your advisors because your thoughts are being clouded by your desires. However, when your motivation for opposing good advise from trusted sources is based on a clear view of what needs to be done at that particular time, and what is best for those who depend on you, then follow your own counsel and you will not be wrong.

Harry, remember that if you stop being the kind of man that will do anything to help his friends, then Voldemort has won already.

Never back away from an opportunity to lead people in a good cause. This is your calling in life. If you stop leading your friends in good causes, then Voldemort has won again.

You can’t stop doing the right thing because it hurts. In fact, here is another secret for life. Doing good when it hurts is the only way to be the man that you can be.

The golden rule is real. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. Now, “others” can be split into two major categories: Friends and Enemies.

How do you treat your friends? Are your friends happier after they have spent time with you? Do you raise their spirits, or drag them down? Do they know how you feel about them, that you love them? Never miss a chance to tell a friend how much you care.

Now, that is the easy part. Even Draco treats his friends fairly well. The hard question is how do we treat our enemies? There may be people who don’t like you, but you can be above that. A soft answer can defuse a difficult situation. Remember, powerful enemies can become powerful friends. And even if they don’t, you are the kind of person that doesn’t keep enemies. That is a trait for Severus, not you.

Remember, Harry, life is not about being perfect; it is about getting better every chance we get.

Life happens no matter what we do or how we feel. You might as well choose to be happy. (Yes, we personally choose to be happy or sad.) Might as well be happy!

One final thought before the last piece of banana is gone. Do not judge your father by Professor Snape’s perception of him. I am sure that Severus remembers the scene in the pensieve just as you saw it. I am also sure that reality is somewhat different. We all see the world through the filters we choose to put over our eyes.

There are several lessons here.

You must understand that any second hand information is always tainted. When you listen to others speak, remember that there is a filter in place. You must try to get to the truth through that filter. Several sources of information can help you get to the truth.

Also, you see through a filter. Try to be as objective as possible as you observe and review in your mind any important events.

Finally, your actions are observed through people’s filters. When you want to be helpful to someone, consider the filter that they have in place, and make sure that they will see your actions or words as helpful. Sometimes, we can do harm while trying to help because of the filters that people wear.

Harry, if I were talking to someone else, I would make sure that I warned them not to be scared into inaction by these few words of advise that I have shared. I know that you will not have that problem, because “doing” is the center of your being, and that is as it should be.

p.s. I have left out faith and God because that has not really been introduced into the HP universe, although basic moral conduct is a significant theme. However, they would be a huge part of this talk in our universe.