Harry Potter Magic in a way to understand conservative Americans
By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—
Miriam Margolyes, legendary actress and spirited, long-time lesbian activist, is a recent discovery for me. Her many notable roles include the “Harry Potter” movies as Professor Sprout and the loveable, good-hearted, socially uptight aunt in the Australian television drama “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.”
I’ve watched her interviews on different programs posted on YouTube. She’s a hoot. Smart, strong, witty, charming, empathetic, intellectual, and she knows how to gently put someone in their place. She has a worldwide following, not because of “Harry Potter,” but because she is herself and she is delightful.
She thinks Americans need to travel more. They must better educate themselves. Personally, I think Americans need to read more too. Margolyes shares with Americans, if we are not open and honest, that we’re missing out on realizing our potential.
Throughout history deep-thinking men and women have spoken and written not of the flaws we call human nature, but of humanity’s beauty and nobility. Many came to the conclusion that each of us is the other’s best hope. Humanity has the empowering ability to grow, evolve, and change.
This is what Margolyes is attempting to teach this young nation in her new program. We’re in it together and we need to understand one another.
Once she thought of Christians as the natural enemy. No longer. Margolyes took the time to understand some conservative Christians on their terms. In doing so they learned from one another. She calls America “unformed.” Americans need to get out of their comfort zones to experience the diversity that is life. It applies to everyone.
Because many Americans don’t even own a passport, she decided to go to them. No doubt she planted a seed that may germinate in the future with a better understanding of the LGBTQ community.
Despite the current president, she believes even the people who sent him to the White House are good and decent. People remain America’s best hope.
The great composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein observed, “One person fighting for the truth can disqualify for me the platitudes of centuries.” No matter how misguided, uninformed, Bernstein insisted, “I believe in people. I believe that man’s noblest endowment is his capacity to change.
“I believe in the potential of people. I cannot rest passively with those who give up in the name of ‘human nature.’ Human nature is only animal nature, if it is obliged to remain static.” Without spiritual growth and maturity, there is no divinity, no Creator. It’s a proposition Bernstein can’t accept.
Often it’s said you are what you believe. If you think you’re fat and unlovable, it becomes a self-fulling prophecy. If you think America can’t become better, then it won’t. Shifts in attitude only occur with listening, learning, and engagement. If that occurs, Margolyes and Bernstein are right.
Bernstein approached his music with a spiritual awe. He participated in the transcendental act of creation. He saw his music as a unifier no matter race, gender, religion, or sexuality. Although Margolyes uses a different medium, she too is creating.
Everyone reading this column has an opportunity to create. Join a Rotary club or volunteer in groups in addition to those focused on LGBTQ issues. Go beyond comfort zones to engage and change the world.
*Paul is a corporate chaplain, seminary trained priest, and lawyer in greater Albany, New York. He’s also author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.”