Sunday, June 5, 2011

Harry Potter: Dumbledore's Consistency

I have just re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth (and second-to-last) of the Harry Potter novels. This is the novel in which Professor Albus Dumbledore dies, a huge blow to Harry Potter, to all the faculty and students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy, and to the whole magical community.

One of Dumbledore's qualities that has struck me in each of the Harry Potter novels is his marvelous consistency. Dumbledore is unfailingly calm, polite, and kind. Dumbledore's calmness, politeness, and kindness remain consistent, no matter what circumstances he finds himself in and no matter how someone else may be treating him. Whenever someone insults Dumbledore, he remains calm, polite, and kind. Dumbledore's behavior is determined by his inner sense of who he is (a calm, polite, kind person); he is not a chameleon who changes his behavior to match the behavior of the person interacting with him. This doesn't mean that Dumbledore allows himself to be trampled upon. He is quite firm in standing up for himself, but he remains calm, polite, and kind, even while being firm.

Some of us match our behavior to the behavior of the person with whom we are interacting. This allows other people to determine our behavior and makes us chameleons. If the other person is polite, we match that person's politeness; if the other person is rude, we match that person's rudeness. Others of us, like Dumbledore, know who we are and remain consistently calm, polite, and kind (firm, too, when needed) no matter whom we are interacting with. If we are like Dumbledore, we determine our behavior ourselves, based on a deep sense of who we are. The other person may be polite or rude, but if we are consistent, we will remain polite because that is who we are.

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