Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The London Riots: It's Like Hogwarts

I want to speak freely and without disguise. When things like this happen, it always brings up the same questions. For me it comes down to the dichotomous relationship between random destruction and purposeful creation. Senseless violence is easy and immediate, while positive change, actually adding something of significance to the world, is slow-going and often difficult. While this is disheartening to realize, it also makes me appreciate all the more the good and positive things in my life.

It’s hard, though. Because how do you fight back? Vigilantism usually only adds to the problem. So what do we do? It’s easy to root for the heroes in the fictional books we read, adventure tales with easily identifiable bad guys and mostly literal fights, battles to be won with magic or sword or gun or physical prowess of some kind. But in the real world, faced with the wake of a school shooting, a suicide, a senseless murder, brutal riots—when it seems that evil is not only real but very nearby and very active, that it has conspired (and often succeeded) in doing harm to those you love, your family or friends, neighbors and community—what then? I don’t know.

I think there are only a few things we can do. They seem small, they don’t seem like enough when you want to be doing something, when you want to put a sword through an evil snake or slay bad guys with a light saber or figure out a way to magically make everything better somehow. But these two things are HUGE. These two things are at the crux of what makes us human: (1) we pick ourselves up, clean up, rebuild, restore, and (2) we keep at the slow but vital work of creation, compassion, growth and change.

There are many horrific pictures, videos, and stories flying around right now about the London riots. One of the most despicable things I’ve seen is a video of a group of young men who help a wounded boy to his feet—only, it turns out, to make it easier to mug him. Blood is dripping from a gaping head wound. He’s dazed, obviously doesn’t know what’s going on. The person holding the zoomed-in camera is too far away to do anything but shout in dismay when her initial hopes—“They’re helping him? He’s going to be alright?”—are dashed by what turns out to be simply more of the same, the idiotic and self-serving acts of small, detestable people.

But in the midst of these reports you hear things that make your heart swell. The #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter, as people sick of the violence and wanting something they can do to help come together, mobilize to try to repair some of the damages done these past few nights. Tears stung at my eyes to read a report of one person near a tube station: “Almost everyone getting off the Clapham Junction is carrying a broom,” she tweeted. And in reply, someone else said, “It’s like Hogwarts.” It is. IT IS! That’s exactly what it’s like! Out of the mouths of Muggles!

That’s what we do, we wizards. That’s what we stand for. We rebuild, we repair, we step up to help. We unite, using our bravery, our loyalty, our cunning and our smarts to stand up against this kind of senseless destruction. We are a community of dedicated, creative, enthusiastic people, constantly bringing new things into the world, whether it’s fan fic or wizard rock, podcasts or documentaries. We build others up through encouragement and friendship. We raise money to send five planes of supplies to people in desperate need of food, shelter, and medicine. We build libraries and support communities. And it’s thinking of these things that gives me hope.

Now when I see the images in the news or on Twitter, I can’t help but think, “I’m not afraid of you. Ultimately, you are powerless. Our weapon is much stronger than fire or clubs or guns. It’s like Hogwarts, which means the hooded figures wearing the masks are on the losing side. It’s like Hogwarts, so I’ve got to ask, “Yeah? You and whose army?” It’s like Hogwarts, which means no matter how much you take, how much you smash and destroy, how many people you harm, we’ve already won. So give it up, already. Try for a little remorse. Here, have a broom.

I don't know what will become of the city I love in the next few days, weeks, months. But I know that no matter what these fools will not prevail. Love is the only thing that can withstand, and their idiotic, selfish greed will fade into obscurity like the useless dust it is.

It's like Hogwarts, which means that in the end all is well.

All will one day be well.

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