A light in the darkness
I’ve always loved the Elie Wiesel quote that explains the opposite of love is not hate.
While each emotion is an extreme on a given spectrum, they are not inherently opposites because they both imply a sense of action. No: The opposite of love is indifference, he explains.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’re more than familiar with the motifs of darkness and light as well as with the theme of an impending storm coming. “These are dark times, there is no denying,” Minister Rufus Scrimgeour explains at the beginning of the penultimate movie. And for many people, the sense of impending darkness we see in the magical franchise is all too familiar for our current state of affairs.
When one woman came home to find her house vandalized—just one instance in a frightening series of recent hate crimes—she turned to the lessons and morals of Harry Potter to encourage herself and others to stay positive.
For many people across the nation, things have felt off for some time now.
Whether directly or indirectly affected, it’s hard to stand there and say that there has not been a wave of negativity over the past few months. Sadly, these aren’t mere feelings we’re talking about. The swelling senses of division and prejudice have continually manifested themselves into palpable examples of hate, and many of us are left here wondering what’s next.
Nothing prepared Erin Zettle of Lapeer, Michigan for what she saw when she came home the other week: Somebody had spray painted a large swastika across her front door.
Vandalism dates back perhaps as long as humanity itself and is very simple: You damage or destroy something that doesn’t belong to you. But the lasting effect that even the smallest act of vandalism can have cuts much deeper.
When your property or home is vandalized, your own sense of dignity has come under attack. Perhaps most often expressed via graffiti, these words and symbols drawn out in spray paint are difficult if not impossible to erase, but even after they’re gone, we remember that we are vulnerable.
After finding the symbol best known as representing the extreme hatred of Hitler’s regime on her front door, Zettle reported that she “cried, and cried.”
But she didn’t give up faith. “This isn’t my community,” she wrote. “This is happening in my community, but I will not judge my community based on the worst of actions.”
Instead of merely painting over the spray paint swastika, Zettle decided to turn her experience into something positive. Instead of responding with more hate or even indifference, she chose love.
And she found her inspiration in Harry Potter.
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” One of Dumbledore’s most famed quotes, the selection was absolutely fitting given Erin’s situation. We think it would make J.K. Rowling herself proud.
Explaining her choice to do it, Zettle said, “I decided that some random idiot was not going to make me paint my door and I wanted to answer back. Look, usually blind optimism and this level of naïveté make me a little nauseous, too.” But she did it anyway.
And that wasn’t the only great quote Erin used to cover up the swastika…