The Order of the Phoenix – my favourite of the series. I still precisely recall buying this on the morning after it was released (why would you queue up at midnight when you could get it the following morning?), proceeding to read all day, then all night.

It was a long book (870 pages) but I did it pretty much at one sitting. I was enthralled. The wizarding world really expands in this book and we are introduced to many new things, including the Order, the Prophecy and SPEW. ootp-uk-adult-cover-art

I could talk all day about the book itself, but you’ve all read it, haven’t you? HAVEN’T YOU? If the answer is anything but, ‘YES, LOADS OF TIMES!’ then go and read it. NOW.

What did I learn this time? What new insight was in store for me?

Fighting for equality. Discrimination. Political division and upset.

Sounds just like our world, right now, doesn’t it? Scarily close, actually. So how does JK approach it and how does she teach us, through this amazing story, about equality and tolerance and the importance of working together, with others who are different to ourselves.

Let me put down a few quotes from the book and tell me how many of them could we apply to our world, now.

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”

In a world where most of us are fortunate enough to live comfortable, safe lives, it is easy to forget that others are not so fortunate and suffer on a daily basis. We walk past someone who is homeless, or we hear someone being verbally abused but keep walking or we hear the news stories about what’s happening around the world and say, ‘Awwww, that’s horrible,’ but then switch on Gogglebox and forget about it.

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

“Yes, but the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters.”

So true – we all have the potential to be good, bad or something in-between. We no longer live in a binary world, whether it’s gender, nationality, ethnicity or whether we are deemed good or evil.

I won’t go on and on about this, but below are a selection of other quotes. What do you read into them? How are they applicable to you and your life/our society?9781408855690_309036

“We can’t choose our fate, but we can choose others. Be careful in knowing that.”

“There is nothing worse than death, Dumbledore!” snarled Voldemort.
“You are quite wrong,” said Dumbledore, speaking as lightly as though they were discussing the matter over drinks. “Indeed, your failure to understand that there are things much worse than death has always been your greatest weakness…”

“Harry, suffering like this proves you are still a man! This pain is part of being human —”
“THEN — I — DON’T — WANT — TO — BE — HUMAN!” Harry roared.”

I always liked this last one – it’s true, sometimes the pain of loss is so overwhelming, you want to switch it off, you to think about almost anything else. But it’s the acceptance of this and the fact that death is part of life, that makes us, well, human.

If I close my eyes right now and think about how I’d feel if I lost someone close to me – like my wife or daughter – my brain becomes overwhelmed. It can’t deal with it. I’d be so distraught, I’m not sure how I’d go on. But that’s the point. That’s what makes us love people and makes us treasure the time we do have with them.

So if you’re reading this, go and hug your wife/husband/son/daughter/mum/dad, etc right now and take a moment to think about life without them. It will make you appreciate what you have all the more.

“Young people are so infernally convinced that they are absolutely right about everything.”

I couldn’t resist popping in this last one. As a teacher of teenagers, I couldn’t think of a statement more true. Fellow teachers/parents, I’m sure you’ll agree.