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[personal profile] eyelessgame
I read the Harry Potter series to each of my children, for each one stopping at the point when they decided to pick up the book themselves and read the rest.

Josh was at the age where he was still bothered by nightmares when we read Prisoner of Azkaban - so I talked with him about scary things - dementors and boggarts - and in the course of it I realized what Rowling was trying to teach young readers about fear.

I told Josh that nightmares were like boggarts. They can scare you - they can be what you are most afraid of - but they can't hurt you. All they are is fear.

Now, there are things that really can hurt you. And for that you have to take other steps; you can't just banish fear and be done. But in the story, by separating out fear and giving it the persona of a boggart - representing anxiety, terror, dread, separated for a moment from real power or real events - Rowling showed exactly how to defeat it.

(Keep in mind that fear is being deliberately sown - because contra Yoda, fear leads to despair, despair leads to inaction, inaction leads to dictatorship). Fear is a weapon that must be countered on its own.

Rowling's lesson is that the way to counter fear is to laugh.

Fear cannot survive when people are laughing.

After only a few discussions of boggarts - a few conversations about how to wake after a nightmare, think about what was so scary, and then imagine how to make it ridiculous (Riddikulus) - Josh stopped having nightmares.

This isn't Rowling's invention, of course. Consider Spike Jones' "Der Fuhrer's Face". Laughter works as propaganda. It demolishes unearned respect. It renews the soul. It banishes fear.

Of course, much more than laughter is needed. Laughter doesn't stop oppression or damage. But when you are terrified of what is coming, what is already happening, if you give in to terror, you participate in the damage. But by laughing, you inoculate yourself against self-damage. Against participating in the oppression. You prevent yourself from making it worse.

And It really is hilarious, this child, this narcissist, who thinks, who really thinks, he's qualified to run the world. It's dangerous that he's there, but do not be afraid; remember, he is a man-child, who petulantly insists on respect he doesn't deserve; he hates it when he's laughed at.

I wrote a short story a few years back, in the dreamwidth archives somewhere, that ended with the Lord God Almighty telling a damned fool, "When I said 'be not afraid', I meant it."

So laugh. Stop cowering. It's important. Laugh at the clown who's so absurd he thinks he is entitled to your respect - he thinks he can make you afraid. Keep laughing. Share all the pathetic, foolish, childish, petulant, boastful, imbecilic things about Trump. Delight in the discomfort your laughter sows. Because it banishes the boggart. Step one - accomplished. You have stopped fear itself from hurting you.

Laugh, and then get to work stopping the damage.

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