Letters to Readers
Where to Get It
A real Dumbledore's Army?
This page collects the main postings and some reader comments from this topic on the Dumbledore's Army group on GoodReads.com. Since it is a discussion group, the most recent posts and comments are at the bottom.
It hit me the other day that Dumbledore's Army is the perfect analogy for something that bright, imaginative, courageous young people may need to start doing, in the real world, very soon. I'm sharing this you all of you because I've found that people who love the Harry Potter stories have a special spark in them, a love of friendship, team cooperation, and fairness/goodness, and also a dislike of all the slimy politics and evil that went on in the Ministry of Magic.
Harry and his friends discovered, step by step as the larger story unfolded, that the good values in their small group were not shared by the outside world. The muggle world was clueless, as are most people today who are struggling with unemployment, rising prices, and disappearing services. Even most students at Hogwarts just had their own little agendas, and weren't seeing the threads that were weaving themselves like a spider web (with V...you know...as the spider). People today have a million and one agendas (conservative, liberal, or whatever) and aren't looking for the threads that are weaving themselves in our world.
So I'm going to post here, once or twice a week, my thoughts about how Dumbledore's Army is an excellent model for what young people need to be doing to live and prosper in the future. I don't pretend to be able to see that future, but I study the forces that are shaping it, and I'm convinced that anyone who does not sharpen their wits and hone their skills very soon, like Harry and his friends did, will wish they had.
25 June 2011: What's the Threat?
An army forms because there's a threat. People don't make armies when there's no threat, because there are many more interesting things we could do with the same resources.
In Harry Potter's case, the threat was coming directly from the leadership of the Ministry of Magic, who were reacting with fear and denial to rumors that V ... you know ... had returned. Even though those leaders were not in themselves evil (?), their efforts to do their jobs were threatening to destroy Hogwarts by leaving it vulnerable to the real evil.
In our world today, huge changes are going on all around us. Although there are some people who might be labeled as evil (Bernie Madoff comes to mind), mostly there are just a lot of "leaders" running around trying to figure out what's going on, how it will affect the next election, and who they can point fingers at.
Some of our main threats:
Just like in Harry Potter, fear and denial can easily be sources of problems, instead of solutions.
Ooooh, I getcha now.
Well, honestly we are doing a ton of things to solve those problems. I think it was all caused by the discovery of fossil fuels. They caused pollution which caused strange weather. Decline in fossil feuls also in a way caused the downfall of the economy.
What can we do now?
Is that a little bit more on the dot?
Oh and to connect all that to Harry Potter -
- Discovery of Fossil Feuls - Harry Potter - Discovery of Dark Magic
Dark Magic caused Voldemort which caused death. It also caused a large out turn of bad wizards and harry potter. These bad wizards also spread death and fear. Which caused a dark period in the wizarding world The first time voldemort rose was kind of like the great depression. Then when he was resting was kind of the time between the great depression and now. Now would probably be the second rise of lord voldemort except it's longer and not likely to be the last one we have.
What people in Harry Potter did -
The good people stood up for what they believed in. The cowards (willing to switchh to whichever side was safer) were always causing the problems. For example - if there hadn't been a peter pettigrew (the man who betrayed lilly and james potter) there would have never been a chosen one and the story would have never happened. So the cowards are in a way like the fossil fuels which caused the whole thing. The bad people continued doinng what was wrong and murdered and killed and savaged. Main Characters (Harry and Ron and Hermione) - these are the chracters that solved the problem - this is the part of our story that hasn't happened yet and might never happen. There was only one thing they could do and that was to find and destroy the horcruxes. However they weren't sure where the horcruxes were or how to destroy them, they were also partly confused and depressed during the story.
**Note- Harry Potter is a more emotional version of whats happening to us.
29 June 2011: What's needed for Magic?
One essential thing is actually the same thing that's needed for doing just about anything. It goes by many names, but my favorite is:
Ever wonder why Hogwarts started at age 11, not 5 or 6? Personal power doesn't come easily for adults, but it's almost impossible for children. Somewhere between 10 and 12 is when most young people these days go through a huge change. Their bodies and minds kick into high gear and begin the transition to adulthood.
Years ago I helped plan a personal power camp. For financial reasons, it didn't open, but out of the planning came a definition of personal power that became the most important theme of my writing:
"Personal power is the ability to stand on your own two feet, with a smile on your face, in the middle of a universe that contains a million ways to crush you."
That's the journey Harry, Hermione, Luna, and their friends, to various degrees, are on. That journey is there for you to make also, even if you never get a magic wand. In future posts, we'll explore it in much more detail.
But I think personal power isn't standing up on your own two feet, I think it is getting up from a fall.
Anyone can succeed, but it's harder to succeed ocnce you've fallen.
For example, it's easy to make a river dirty, but to make the dirty river clean is a challenge. And you still haven't succeeded once it's clean, once you figure out how to keep it clean that's when you've succeeded.
Harry Potter wise - For Harry - After he defeated Volemort once evrybody praised him, but when he tolld everyone that Voldemort was coming back, he went from a hero to scoundrel (to the public). But he dealt with it, he didn't do anything rash or runaway. I think that is what defines personal power:
Wanting to do something soo much that you can deal with anything bad that comes with the reward.
or Overcoming challenges not escaping them.
So, starting a Dumbledores Army in real life huh? Young kids/teens already do something like that, which I think makes positive change in the world today.
Different 4-h clubs, counties and districts come together to solve problems at least once a year...sometimes twice or three times for counties, many more for clubs though.
They introduce it in a fun way to kids and teens(4-Her's).
4-Her's come up with several different ways to solve problems today, the main focus is solving problems facing kids and teens though.It's interesting because people who live in different lifestyles have different takes on several things, and 4-Her's always seem to find a way to come up with a solution.
I'm sure there are many different things like this in the world...but we definitely need more of them.
4-H is one great example of helping the community, and places all around the world even. And they have clubs of different kinds too.
Horse clubs, service clubs, clubs just for younger kids, and many others that have positivity for kids and teens today, to shape our future tomorrow.
4-hers of all ages are cleaning up rivers, picking up litter,having food drives, compostig and other forms of recycling, volunteering at animal centers, and many other things. You can even tell by the 4-H pledge that 4-Her's are dedicated to good causes
So is 4-H kind of what you're talking about when you say a real life dumbledore's army...or did I just ramble on for nothing...??
3 July 2011: So ... What is Magic?
Very nice point, Tokio. I have always had great respect for 4H as they are not afraid to get their hands dirty and do things that matter, like work with animals. 4H is an excellent way to develop PERSONAL POWER, as 4Hers get practice doing large, complicated projects, and nothing that is important in our world is going to be quick and simple. 4H will be especially relevant if our agricultural system keep having more and more problems, and we have to grow more (all?) of our food locally. Right now the ingredients in a typical American meal traveled an average of 1200 miles, and for every calorie we eat, 10 calories of oil and gas were used to make that one calorie.
Today's topic: So ... what is Magic?
Magic is many different things to different people, and I'm no expert, but I know of a couple of definitions that will give us something we can actually use, as opposed to just movie-making special effects.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." -- Arthur C. Clarke
In other words, if a technology is beyond our understanding, we might as well call it magic. If you pull a little box from your pocket, touch its crystal face, and then talk to, maybe even see, someone far away, it might as well be called a "magic mirror." We call it a mobile phone. Does that make it less magic? No. Only a few people REALLY understand it. That's the case with Hogwarts-style magic too. Lots of students use it, but only the most advanced teachers (Dumbledore, Snape, ...) really know what's going on.
Giving it a mundane (or muggle) name lets us THINK it's not magic. Why do we do that? Are we afraid to be magic-users?
The future is going to need wizards and witches of many kinds. There is a small group of people in the world studying "Green Wizardry" under John Michael Greer, an Arch Druid. They are rediscovering the skills of growing a garden without poisons, chemicals, and power tools. In the not-too-distant future, when there's no food in the grocery stores, people everywhere may be begging for their help.
"Magic is changes in consciousness at will." -- Dion Fortune
In other words, practicing magic is being in control of your own mind and heart. Most people stumble through life, tossed this way and that, rarely planning, just being "victims" of the thoughts and feelings that slap them around. Magic of any kind needs focused, trained intention, which requires a coordination of mind and heart, under the control of the human will.
It's that simple.
3 July 2011: What's the Danger?
It's essential for an "army" to understand what the stakes are, what they stand to lose if they don't go to "war."
Hogwarts was rapidly being turned into a police academy when Harry and his friends decided to form Dumbledore's Army. They saw where it was going. Some of the students, such as Malfoy, would have liked it. Most of the students with high values such as honor, fairness, honesty, kindness, etc., would have left. Those who remained would have been easy pickings for V ... you know.
Our world also has a direction it's heading, and it's not hard to guess what it is. No one can really "see" the future, we can only look at the forces at work in the present, and imagine where we'll go if nothing changes.
Here are some directions we're heading, if nothing changes:
But when thinking about dangers that seem to be lurking in our future, it's important to take a deep breath before freaking out, and remember that many things can change between now and that future.
If you go into war thinking about what you have to loose you will loose everyhting! You go into war to gain something, think about what you will gain and fight. Have a positive attitude and once youy step into something don't look back.
Humans were given the gift of walking forward for a reason.
You're right about the fact that between now and the future that things will change, I just hope it's for the better. I hope that everyone will understand that we don't have to accept bad things that happen, and that we can change things.Every bit of positivity can change something for the better...right?
9 July 2011: Some of the Usual Mistakes
Good points, Kate and Tokio. Just remember that a positive attitude is NECESSARY for making things better, but is not always enough.
Most "armies" make the same mistakes, over and over again. Harry and his friends made some, and the Ministry of Magic made others. It's a good idea to avoid them if you have any intention of winning. (Not all armies have that intention, as strange as it sounds.)
Fighting an enemy on HIS turf with HIS weapons is an excellent way to lose. The home football team, on the football field, with a football, is going to walk all over the visiting tennis team. Going into the Ministry of Magic wasn't a complete slaughter ONLY because Dumbledore was there to add (magic) muscle. We are polluting our planet because doing so makes money, and we will not stop polluting as long as money is our measure of success.
Are we trying to fight evil? At first, evil was something "out there" named V ... you know. It got closer and closer to Hogwarts, until finally, at the time of Dumbledore's Army, it was literally IN CHARGE. Evil had come home, in the shape of Fear and Denial. Sound familiar? The usual response to an energy shortage is "We'll never run out!!!" and to climate change is "It's not our fault!!!" or "You're making up the data!!!" The fact is, Fear and Denial are in all of us whenever we step outside our "comfort zone."
Most wars are about replacing the leadership, and that was just as true at Hogwarts. Occasionally great leaders pop up (Dumbledore, Louis IX), but they are rare. Usually, when an army wins, they replace the old, corrupt leaders with new, corrupt leaders, and then wonder why things are bad again a few years later. The lesson here is that bad leadership is NORMAL in human politics. So be careful what you fight for. It may not be worth the blood, sweat, and tears.
Wasn't the ministry of Magic head Barty Crouch? And yeah, now that you mention it...he was too fearful, but it also seemed like he thought if he kept out of most peoples business, that they wouldn't try to hurt him, therefore making him invincible.
Another thing though is, what if that became untrue? I mean there must be a few instances where the old bad leader was replaced with a good new leader, right? If not, than everyone would just be going in circles...
No the Minister of Magic was Fudge and then Scrimingeour. And Fudge was defanetly not a good leader. He wouldn't look at the proof that Voldy was back. And that was because of fear and reputation.
But what is considered "winning"? And what are we fighting against? Is it really the tumbling economy, lack of resources, and climate change or is there really a greater threat that we need to look out for? Are these issues just small battles in what is really large war that will never end?
We can be, or it can be used as a figure of speech, but in this case it's real. We are fighting to solve problems that have never been solved before, and I suppose winning would be solving most or all of the problems. I suppose that these could just be small battles in a never-ending war but if we were to solve these problems then that would help us in the long-run to fixing what we might think is a nver-ending war. Remember trying to fix problems, and positivity can help just about every situation.
13 July 2011: A little Magic
Yes, Tokio, a truly good leader pops up once in a while, but not often enough to count on. Arti, I totally agree about Fudge's fear. He reminded me of an ostrich with its head in a hole. I'll leave to the imagination what hole.
Fascinating idea, Goldensunshine. That's big, and I'm putting on my list to write about soon. Thanks!
Here's my goodie for today ... everyone ready to learn a little Magic?
Get comfortable and close your eyes. Do nothing and think about nothing for one minute.
Don't de surprised if you fail. For most people, it's quite hard. Many people go their entire lives without ever experiencing a minute of voluntary, complete mental rest.
This is your first Personal Power lesson. It may sound trivial, but it's the foundation of Magic. If you can, at will, do nothing and think about nothing for one minute, then you will also be training yourself to do SOMETHING, and focus your mental powers on SOMETHING. We don't care what right now. The important thing is that you CAN.
Try it again. Yes, thoughts and memories love to jump in. That's sometimes called our "monkey mind" because it doesn't like to be still. It's most happy jumping around.
That "monkey mind" is most vulnerable to being told what to do by advertising and propaganda. The trained mind that can relax, or focus on something, at will, is best able to think for itself.
One minute of mental discipline a day will give you the foundation of Personal Power. Can you spare the time?
Oh that is so cool! I did it for a minute!
16 July 2011: A larger war?
I decided to tackle Goldensunshine's question, who obviously sees deeply into things. There's no simple answer. This will get into multiple reality levels, which I'll write about more soon, but here are my thoughts on this question.
Every problem we solve, or adapt to, or run from, is part of a larger growth process. For example, the ecomonic "recession" we are wrestling with is all about money, but that's just a way of counting the value of things people trade. So it's really, on a higher level, about human relationships. If our money economy isn't working well, we'll change it, and so we'll change human relationships (at least, as they apply to trading).
If we run short on resources, or change the climate of the world, then there's something wrong with our assumptions about what the Earth can give and take. Our old assumptions were, without really thinking about it, that the Earth was limitless, which is obviously absurd because we can measure it, and sail or fly around it. As we change those assumptions, we'll change our relationship with the Earth.
So, in my opinion, these little "battles" are growing pains. The larger war is all about "growing up." It happens to individuals in years, and to the whole human race over centuries.
I know it's tempting to think about the "war" in terms of good and evil, but there's a fallacy (logic error) in that, which I'll write about soon.
20 July 2011: Levels of Reality
Just the basics. Every belief system has a much more elaborate "map" of the levels of reality they believe in, but most of those cannot be experienced directly unless you study and practice that system.
Few people would argue against the simple system I'm about to give you, and it forms the foundation of most of the more elaborate systems.
THINGS - physical reality, sub-atomic particles, atoms, molecules, radiation, etc. This includes our bodies, air, water, the Earth, sunshine, stars, and the ink on the page of a book.
MEANINGS - only accessible by MIND, it includes everything we would call INFORMATION, such as letters, words, symbols, numbers, and pictures.
VALUES - only accessible by the higher functions of mind, this level is about the "important stuff" contained in MEANINGS. A creature that can think at this level is often called "sentient" in science fiction, but that is incorrect, because a worm is sentient (can sense its environment), but a worm cannot think about values. The correct term is "sapient" which means capable of wisdom.
An example. Your computer is a THING made of plastic, metal, etc. These words on your screen or printed paper have MEANINGS (you could define each word, even phrases and sentences). Finally, this entire posting has VALUE in that it explains the three most important levels of reality.
The individual words contain meaning, but do not contain ANY part of the VALUE of the whole posting. The pixels on your screen (or ink on your printed paper) contrast with the background so you can see them, but do not contain ANY part of the meanings of the words they form.
23 July 2011: So you want to cast a spell?
Got your head screwed on? Only Hermione had much luck at first. She had good mental discipline at 11. The real person, Emma Watson, who had to memorize all those lines, actions, and emotions, was 9 at the time. I have known 7-year-olds who had it.
Know what level of reality you want to change? "Special effects" may look awesome on the big screen, but are just illusions, not a place where we can do magic.
Know the ethics involved? I haven't talked about that yet, but just think of it this way: if you want to tap into the greater powers of the universe, the ones that most people will never see, you had better be on good terms with them.
Have a wand? If you think you need one, then you are not ready to do magic on any level.
Here's another exercise: after you have succeeded with one minute of mental relaxation (do nothing, think of nothing), then picture something in your mind (start with something simple, like an apple) and "look" at it for one minute. Do nothing, think of nothing else.
27 July 2011: Magical Ethics
"Good" ethics are what seperate Harry and his friends from the Malfoys and V ... you know.
I put "good" in quotes because different people will have different opinions on what is "good." I happen to like the ethics of Harry, Hermione, Luna, and their friends. On the other hand, many people in our world believe that successfully getting money and power make a person and his/her actions "good."
Here's my list:
One of the ethical rules of real witches today is: "An it harm none, do as ye will." That's slightly old fashioned for "Do whatever you want as long as it harms no one." Any simple rule has problems, of course. Does "no one" include yourself? Does it include an evil person who is harming others?
Another wise and time-honored belief is that whatever you send out, returns to you three times over. "Sending out" can be formal spell-casting, or just your thoughts and wishes for others.
Being evil (knowingly doing bad things) gives you great power, temporarily. It also destroys friendship, love, and spiritual growth. The use of any power without good connections to other people and Spirit is cold and ugly.
Both good and evil must be freely chosen, or they don't count.
30 July 2011: The White Dragon
I just saw The Deathly Hallows Part 2, and there are so many good themes in there (and a few cheap ones) that I hardly know where to start!
Probably the first one that really touched me was the white dragon who was captive and enslaved at Gringot's. Doesn't it make sense? Money, and all dealings with money, are all about "reducing" things (anything, anyone) to a number. Things of beauty become "products." Other creatures become "head" (as in "head of cattle"). People become "consumers" or "taxpayers." Mother Earth becomes "real estate." The white dragon was forced to become, against it's will, an "alarm system."
So ... here's something for all honorary members of Dumbledore's Army to watch out for. Being "reduced" to an object is very close to slavery. I don't think Dumbledore would be very happy with that, and I'm sure it's not what we need to make a livable future for ourselves on this little planet.
I completely agree with you on your "good" ethics but is it really possible to keep to them? It has been proven in history and is being displayed in current times that no matter how good the intentions of a person or how strong or pure a belief is in an ethic, we will not be able to follow our morals and codes of conduct. We have always and will always deviate from the path of "good". Being "reduced" and "enslaved" is one of the many extremely negative effects from our corrupt nature, for that is how we are. So my question to you is, how do you plan on staying true to the "good" in this world?
3 August 2011: When Public Education Fails
I thought of a very important job that young wizards and witches will someday, maybe not too long from now, will have to do.
About 150 years ago, our civilization was starting to feel so rich that it decided to try to educate everyone. That's never been done before in history. It went pretty well until 2 or 3 decades ago, then started tightening up. Today, it's quickly falling apart as we can't find the money to do much of anything (unless we borrow it or print it).
Education won't go away completely, but will probably just be for rich people, and maybe a few straight-A students, in the not-too-distant future.
That leaves the "common people" to educate each other. Anyone who has found the self-discipline to follow a challenging path, will find themselves the "teachers." That includes any young people who have chosen to study the forces of the universe that most people don't understand. Whether you call it "magic" or "physics and chemistry" doesn't really matter.
Can you imagine yourself in that position?
6 August 2011: Choosing Good or Evil ...
We certainly have the ability to be evil and corrupt.
So how do we choose?
We can do what other people tell us. At the end of the story, Draco is about to change sides, but then does what his parents tell him. In real life, doing what "they" tell us probably makes us "good consumers," not very good, not very evil. Luke warm. Milk toast.
We can do what's easiest. Stealing from others is easier than making our own. Pretending to be sick is easier than working. Enslaving others is easier than paying a fair wage to willing workers.
What do you think made Harry, Hermione, Luna, and others resist evil and follow good?
Well Harry's parents were killed so there was no way that he would join Voldy. And then. If it seemed like he would, as soon as Sirius died, that was gone. He was going to kill Voldy.
Hermione, had been treated horribly by Malfoy, and the Death Eaters would never let her join.
Ron, his family had been in the wizarding world and knew all about good and bad wizardry, and plus they were known as blood traitors
Luna, well...she's Luna :)
Neville, who's parents have surrfered worse than death, there is no way he would join
Ginny, same as Ron
10 August 2011: In your list ... I spotted several ways to choose good or evil ...
- Experience of family or friends - several saw how people they cared about had been mistreated, sometimes murdered. Harry. Neville.
- Evil won't take them - sometimes the "dark side" is smart enough to see who can be corrupted and who can't be. Hermione.
- They aren't playing that game - some people are just operating on a completely different level. Luna.
- A strong tradition - some people follow the teachings of a family or sect. Ron. Jenny.
The last one is probably the weakest, as we often reject what we are taught as part of growing up and leaving home. But it can work, and we don't all have the other things going for us.
Most religions teach that spiritual beings have ways of communicating with us to help us know the difference between good and evil. In Christian teachings, it's often called "a still, small voice." But we have the free-will to make the final decision for ourselves.
All of these ways of choosing good or evil work in real life, just as they do in stories.
13 August 2011: Witches and Wizards when the World Burns
As I write this, the financial markets of the world are wobbling and thinking of crashing, The City (London) is smoldering after huge riots, the Arab revolutions now include (OMG) Isreal, and most countries in Europe are going broke. The USA lost its AAA rating, Texas is scorched, the artic is melting ...
What's a good witch or wizard to do? Here's my advice, for what it's worth.
Witches and wizards all through history were people who dealt with things (birth, sickness, death, mysteries, disasters, etc.) that other people didn't know how to deal with. To do that, you have to do some things differently than most people.
Take a deep breath and relax. Clear your mind for a minute. I've taught you about that.
Imagine yourself watching the whole mess from a mountain top, cloud, or space ship. You can see everything, far and wide, but are not caught in the middle of it. You can look for the forces at work that people "on the ground" can't see. You need a high point of view, a long perspective.
Most of us can't actually get to a mountain top or space ship. We might even live in London. So the first thing we need to do is get ready to deal with stuff. If you have to leave quickly, what do you need to take? Is it packed? Where would you go to be safe? Who are your "friends" (people you would let in the door bleeding, and they would do the same for you)?
Once you are ready to deal with the dangers at hand, you can begin to step back, gather information, find that long perspective. As you learn more, you can plan better how to keep yourself and your "friends" safe.
Then a funny thing might happen. You might find you are the ONLY one around who is prepared, and really knows what's going on. People will start asking you questions and looking up to you. You would become a leader of some kind.
That's part of the history of witches and wizards too.
But what if you find yourself preparing for one disaster, and then somethnig else happens, something you didn't expect, and don't know how to deal with...and if you were the only person ready for disaster, then what would happen? Would people still look up to you, or would you be left behind in the dust since you prepared for something else?
I must say, that although it seems that you are preparing for the right type of disaster, what about all the other possible disasters that could happen. Shouldn't we Expect the unexpected?
17 August 2011: Was V ... you know ... Voldamort, one of us?
Tokio, you made me howl with laughter! Welcome to Earth! You are so right, it is sooo tricky to predict the future, and easy to miss the thing that winds up slapping you. I'll write something about that for Saturday, but here's my goodie for today:
Even though I disagreed with G that we are hopelessly evil by nature, I have to point out one of the most common thinking errors (fallacies) that human beings make.
It is deeply embedded in our language and culture that "they" are evil, not us. It's "over there," not here. The "bad guys" are always foreigners, aliens. "We" are God's Chosen People, not "them."
This fallacy is called "externalizing evil."
The truth is, every human group, large or small, contains good and evil. Corruption, greed, violence ... whatever you see as evil ... is born and grows up in every nation, city, village, and probably almost every family.
That means it's always there for any one of us to slip into, even if we're liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, white, black, or green.
Voldamort was born, grew up, and made his choices, just like we all do.
So you're saying that a person turns out to be who she or he is by the choices he/she makes?
I would kind of agree with that, but sometimes it's also the way they are brought up (which influences the choices they make, etc.)
But we make are choices because we are influenced. i mean voldemort was influenced my many thing he was encouraged as well that's why he made his choices, choices aren't the only thing that makes us who we are it's the reason behind the choice of what we do.
For example let's say a boys brother had fallen in love with a girl and she had loved him back. All of a sudden the girl ditches the boys brother for a richer guy and the boys brother commits suicide. The boy loved his brother and he hated the reason for his brothers death - a girl. So he hated all girls. It was his choice to hate girls but his chioce was made because of multiple reasons.
true, Voldy grew up in an orphanage, and didnt like being away from there. he wanted to go deeper into wizardry, and that soon grew to wanting TOTAL CONTROL
19 August 2011: Probability x Severity = Risk
You guys are awesome! The discussion you just had is totally university-level, and I've heard much lamer discussions on the same topic even among philosophy majors! (I was a philosophy minor.)
You are all so right. Our decisions are essential to who/what we become, but circumstances can push hard on us. The important thing to remember: no one can take responsibility for who/what we become other than us. (I'll write about "healthy boundries" soon.)
I'll be in Portland tomorrow, so I decided to write on Kate's question today. This is a condensed version of a blog I did a couple of months ago. Like many things in life, if we break it down a little, it becomes workable and not so scary.
Probability x Severity = Risk. This formula lets us put preparations into at least 2 categories, but I'll add a third for interest.
1. Probability: HIGH, Severity: doesn't matter. These are all the things we can predict. If I'm going to town for 6 hours, I KNOW I'll get hungry. Preparation: take lunch or money.
2. Probability: LOW, Severity: HIGH. These are all the dangers in life that we can prepare for. I might, someday, cut myself while slicing veggies for dinner. Preparation: first aide kit, and know how to use it.
3. Probability: VERY LOW, Severity: VERY HIGH. An asteroid hit the Earth 65 million years ago. It could happen again. Preparation: none possible. Enjoy life until you die, by whatever cause.
Most people can trust their instincts to naturally prepare for #1s. We all forget sometimes, but these are usually not fatal.
It's the #2s where people get lazy. Part of being a witch or wizard, or any other serious discipline, is thinking deeply about what might come along, hour by hour, day by day, and preparing. It's different for everyone based on your location, your strengths and weaknesses, and your path in life. Your most powerful tool is, of course, your imagination.
I think time also matters. Some people physically and mentally don't have enough time to prepare for #2 For example a single mother running a household by herself with 4 or 5 children taking on as many jobs as possible only cares about putting food in her childrens mouth and clothes on their bodies as well as getting them thrugh school, college and life. I don't think she has the time to worry about chopping her fingers off. Opinions?
I still think #3 wont happen while Im alive
23 August 2011: Good Boundaries
I agree, Arti, and there's nothing we can do about #3. I'm glad you read it and realized it wasn't really the dreaded MaTh monster. Good point, Kate. Preparing for things that haven't happened is a luxury, very hard if you're living close to the edge.
Kate recently gave an excellent example of someone who gets their boundaries mixed up. It's easy to do. Learning good boundaries can be the difference between a successful and honorable witch, wizard, carpenter, or bookkeeper ... and someone who bounces in and out of the loony bin or jail all their lives.
Having good boundaries starts with respect. Except for children and a few others who can't take care of themselves, every person wants to be respected in their personal business and personal space unless they ASK someone else to come in, or someone offers and they ACCEPT. It's all about free will.
Parents and young adults have lots of trouble with boundaries. It's so very easy for either one to forget that the other is a person too.
Employers and employees, leaders and followers, rich people and poor people, the majority and the minority ... all have a long history of one kind of person treating the other kind as an object, instead of a person.
Objects are things, we "own" them, we do with them what we want, treat them however we want, tell them what to do, take them, throw them away ...
People have feeling and rights. They have a territory we must not enter without permission, or we will be seen as TRYING to bother them. Sometimes it's just a few feet across, like in a store or on the sidewalk. Sometimes much bigger, like when driving a car. When I'm flying a helicopter, my "personal space" is about a mile in every direction, and a thousand feet up and down.
People have feelings about a lot more than physical space. We all have a keen sense of when someone is sticking their nose in our business. Respect is all about knowing what's our business, what isn't, and asking very politely any time we are tempted the cross the line. "Yes" mean be careful. "No" means no.
How do you learn good boundaries? Like anything: practice. Watch other people, see what hurts them. Pay attention to what hurts YOU. Then decide what kind of person you want to be.
27 August 2011: Generalizing Preparation Skills
"Generalizing" is a big word, I know, but it's your friend, believe me.
It's actually really simple. If you prepare for one possible problem that might whack you in the future, you are going through the same process as you would to prepare for most other problems. So you're 1/2, maybe 3/4 prepared for things you haven't even thought about yet!
Let's say you live in a forest, like I do. You have nightmares about a forest fire. You decide to prepare as best you can. You read some things and decide to get a smoke hood (sort of like a "gas mask"), and a day pack with food and water, for each person.
Next year, no forest fire, but a huge snow storm comes along. Electricity is out, cars are useless, pipes are frozen.
You're 1/2 prepared because you have already chosen to THINK and ACT instead of FREAK OUT. You don't need the smoke hoods, but after a week, the pantry is bare, and those day packs with Power Bars (or whatever) save your lives.
Then, when the storm is over, you decide to get some snow shoes!
This is the thinking and acting process that sets witches and wizards apart from muggles, good leaders apart from scared followers.
So connecting this to Harry Potter, what would Volemorts "boundaries" have been? He was mad because mudbloods existed. But theres honestly nothing you can do about that is there? No one in specific tried to cross his boundaries, it was just their normal lives which he thought affected him.
So Voldemort is a good leader? I mean even if he was leading towards the wrong thing he carried out his job pretty well. Although I think that true leadership is when the people who are following you will repsect you and stand by your side, not thrugh fear of you, but through respect of you. Harry took the respect side, and Voldemort took the fear side. On harry's side though there was Dumbledore, Ron and Hermione, who helped him out a lot. On Voldemort's side it was just him.
31 August 2011: Wealth When Money is Sick or Dying
Oh yes, Kate, Voldamort had some sick boundary issues. He wanted to rule the world. Everyone and everything was a real or potential enemy, even his "friends." He was a good leader in the sense of "powerful," but not ethically good. You nailed the difference perfectly: respect or fear.
Wealth When Money is Sick or Dying
Any good witch or wizard needs to know what's going on in the world. Most of you have probably heard about the huge national debt, banks closing, bail-outs, toxic assets, and many other things that are hard to understand. They are hard for me to understand too, even though I study them an hour or two every day. They're all about money. It's sick, and might be dying.
Lots of people pooh-pooh that idea. The great US dollar, the noble British Pound, and the strong Euro could never die! Fact: no civilization in the history of the world has ever piled up huge debts, like we have now, without destroying their money.
What can we do???
First, we just need to get used to the idea that money can die. It only has value right now because we all agree it does. It can die slowly through "inflation" (prices going up slowly) or quickly through "hyper-inflation" (prices going up so fast that no one can do business any more). Imagine $100 bills or 50 pound notes being good for nothing but lighting fires or wiping your ...
Next, we can put some of our wealth into other things, things that WON'T lose their value. They are called, as a group, "commodities." They include food, tools, fuel, and metals.
One of those metals is just right for young adults. Silver. In the USA, dimes and quarters from 1964 or earlier. You can't find them in pocket change, you have to go to a coin shop. Right now, dimes will cost you $3-$4, quarters $7-$11.
The price of silver is going up most of the time. That means that if you buy some now, it'll probably be worth more next year. But more importantly: if money dies, your silver dimes and quarters will be worth SOMETHING (at a time when most people will have nothing).
So...basically things have goten more expencive over the years?
In dollars or pounds or euros or whatever, yes. That means the value of the money is going down. But with silver and gold, historians have figured our that they bought almost exactly the same amount of stuff in the Roman empire, 2000 years ago, as they do today.
2 September 2011: Enchanted Forest
I'm posting early because I'm going there tomorrow, to Enchanted Forest. It's Oregon's only theme park, a delightful little family-run place.
Enchanted Forest -- a forest that is sung to. Singing is the very essence of magic.
Opening my book of shadows, here's what jumped out at me, instead of what I was looking for:
Where the Witches Dwell, by Whitedog
Beyond the srafts of evolving tyme
7 September 2011: What's in Your Magic Bag?
Actually, a day pack or shoulder bag is probably the way to go these days. The smaller and lighter (that will still do the job) the better.
Potions? We call them vitamins and medicines. What do you need? How long will your supply keep you alive? Can you live without it? If nothing else, a small bottle of vitamin C tablets can save your life if you get an infection.
Book of Shadows? Okay, a journal or diary. If you only keep your addresses and phone numbers in the "cloud" somewhere (like on Yahoo), or in your phone, someday you'll have to kiss them good-bye. Ready for that?
Broom? Real, sturdy walking shoes and socks, especially if you tend to go places in sandles or flip-flops. If you can't MOVE under your own power, an emergency can eat you up like a Dementor.
Coin of the Realm? How much depends on how far from home you go. What would it cost you to get home on the bus or train, including meals, if your usual support people disappeared? Minimum in the USA: $20 and 4 quarters. This is NOT, at this point, those silver dimes you are hopefully collecting.
Cloak of Invisibility? A hoodie in the summer, a real coat in the winter. Adjust for your climate. It may not go IN the bag, but should always be with it.
You should have the idea by now. The future that's rushing toward us is going to make us grow up, wheather we're 30 or 15 or 9. You can get ready for it at any age. If this bag isn't somewhere you can grab it at any time, then you aren't ready for ... much of anything.
10 September 2011: What Happened to Draco Malfoy?
Throughout the entire story, Draco was full of anger and cruelty. Those come from FEAR. That's why it's SO important for witches and wizards, and anyone else who wants to be a respected part of the universe, to master their FEARS.
The little meditation exercise I gave you a while back is a good place to start. Many stories (including NEBADOR Books Two and Three) are about people learning to use their emotions as tools, instead of being slaves to those emotions.
In the last movie, Draco's life was saved by his enemies. Was that enough to make him re-think his values? Almost. Then evil parental units appeared, told him what to do, and FEAR kicked in again. Blindly following is easy. Standing up and saying NO is much harder. Standing up to parents, which every young adult must do someday, is VERY hard.
At the end of the battle, Voldamort and his slime-balls lost. Did the Malfoys lay down their wands and kneel before the victors, pledging service to fix the damage they had done?
Of course not! They were AFRAID. They feared they would be treated like THEY would have treated Harry and his friends.
When a crisis is in your face, it's too late to learn calmness, honor, maturity, and self-discipline. You have to learn those things day by day, in everything you do, or they won't be there when the important moment comes.
Draco was the just scared the whole time without his friends. He realized how bad Voldy was when he was made a Death Eater. Draco was def. not an independent dude.
I think that maybe Draco wasn't scared of his parents. Everything Narcissa did was for Draco. I think that yes, they did evil things and yes, they probably would have joined Voldemort for power but ultimately what kept them with him was FEAR of him and provided protection for their family. Draco was a scaredy cat without his friends and so am I, doesn't mean I like him though.
14 September 2011: What's Wrong with the Ending?
I'm glad both of you saw how big a part FEAR plays in getting mixed up with EVIL, Arti and GS. Since you're aware of your fear, GS, hopefully you can master it.
Something about the ending of the last Harry Potter movie bothered me. It wasn't that Ron and Hermione, and Harry and Ginny, had children, and they grew up to be magical. That made sense.
What bothered me was that the last scene implied everything was okay at Hogwarts (after some serious repair work, of course).
The entire Harry Potter story was about the fact that Hogwarts was trying to be good and honorable while existing in a system that was AT LEAST as bad as muggle politics, maybe worse. The Ministry of Magic (sort of the "school district office") was riddled (sorry about the pun) with corruption, dysfunction, and came very close to sponsoring pure evil. The dementors were "bad cops" who just wanted some action, and didn't care whom they got it from. And Hogwarts didn't seem to have any way to keep evil teachers off its staff, and evil students out of its students.
It would be NICE if Hogwarts was repaired, a good headmaster and good teachers found to replace Dumbledore and Snape, and life went on for the main characters' children. It's just a little hard to believe, given what we saw during the six years (not counting the last scene) that the story covered.
BTW, that's one of the mistakes people often make when thinking about the future. It will be like the past, or (if we've been brought up with the Myth of Progress, which most of us have) it will be better. Not necessarily true. There is some inertia (tendency to stay the same) in the flow of history, but tomorrow can be very different from today, and it can go in either direction.
I DONT GET IT. I THOUGHT IT WAS REASONABLE. ((sorry for caps)) It think it made sence that Hogwarts was repaired and everything
So you're saying that everything will not be "fixed" but it can? And I agree with Arti that the major problem, Voldemort, to Hogwarts and the Wizarding World was solved.
J.Z I think we're all a bit confuzzled on your latest post. What do you specifically mean? I think that the they did have change. After all - Minister of Magic was reasonable - Kingsley Shacklebolt - someone who was loyal to his beliefs till the very end. Mcgonagall - headmaster for a bit - after all I think she was quite fair, even though she was head of house she only showed ocasional favorism. Students - it is inevitable to prevent a bad student from being part of a class. It's like even the desert has a rainy day once in a while. No school that i know of has a possible way from preventing all bad evil students. Sometimes evil students just get by because their good actor. Other times a good student truns into a bad one because of an event or emotional thought. There's no way that is 100% proven to prevent it.
17 September 2011: Wrapping Up the Topic
I MOSTLY agree with all of you, but I'm just worried, especially after seeing how much the Ministry of Magic worked against Hogwarts. But I totally HOPE you are right.
Wrapping Up the Topic
I'm about to do some traveling for about a month, so I'll end this topic today, and thank the young adults who have read and commented on my postings. Arti, Kate, Goldensunshine, Tokio, and others.
Partly inspired by this topic, and partly by my Youth Futures blog, I've decided to write a book this winter that will be a gift to young adults. It will be part story and part things you need to know if the problems in our world keep getting worse. It will be a gift because I plan to give it away to or for any young adult, although it will also be for sale at a minimal price for those who prefer to buy it.
To put it very bluntly, I don't believe the adult leaders of our world can solve the economic and environmental problems we are facing. Problems cannot be solved with the same thinking that created them. Every time I see a young adult (a "teen" or "tween"), I get the strange feeling that I'm seeing the future. I don't mean I'm seeing the people who will grow up to be the next "consumers." Instead, I get the feeling I'm looking at the ONLY people who will be around in the future.
Maybe my book will help a few of you who would otherwise be caught in the mess that looks like its coming our way.
This Dumbledore's Army topic, and most of your comments, will be preserved on my web site (www.nebador.com) in case it doesn't remain on GoodReads for any reason. As soon as my new book is ready, I'll post a note on Dumbledore's Army so those who are interested can get a copy.
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