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Old September 2nd, 2008, 1:18 am
Hermione Granger
Posts: n/a
Re: Hermione & Neville: In the Spotlight...or on the Spot?

The Wizarding World and its relations with Muggles

I am sure you are all aware that I am a muggle born witch – and therefore the relationship between our world and the muggle world that surrounds us is of particular interest to me.

First and foremost, I think that the Statute of Secrecy is important – it has served us well in the past, and I think it remains the most effective way of protecting our community.

However, it seems that while we were making efforts to hide from them, we have also managed to turn our eyes from their lives and achievements. I think this has been a dangerous mistake. Interestingly enough, Muggle Studies at Hogwarts and general wizard interest in muggles is mainly focused on muggle lifestyles, gadgets and invetions. That’s all useful to know, but ultimately, many aspects of muggle technology are at most curiosities to us: we have our own ways of making our lives easier – and frankly, our way is less damaging to the environment.

But muggles have done more than harnessed electricity or built airplanes. In the last few centuries our worlds have grown apart while physically existing in the same space, and it seems as if many of their best innovations simply passed us by. At the same time, the non-magical folks who once seemed to be at such a disadvantage compared to witches and wizards have learned to control their environment, and many advantages we once had are no longer so significant. This may make it all the more important to keep our world secret from them – but it is absolutely essential to engage with muggle ideas, because they are likely to have a crucial impact on our lives.

Some muggle activities have reached a scale where they do not just threaten us, but the life of all of humanity, both magical and muggle. Muggles have discovered horrific new ways of making war, they have invented weapons and strategies so terrible that wizards could not help to be affected if they were caught up in a large conflict. We have to learn more about this, and if there is any way in which we can contribute to defuse the situation, we should do so. Moreover, the muggles’ economic activities are causing serious environmental damage. Many believe that their habit of producing most forms of energy by burning carbon based substances causes climate change, and the depletion of natural habitats everywhere is speeding up at a worrying pace. It doesn’t look as if muggles can change their habits quickly enough, and things will probably get a good deal worse very quickly. All of us will be affected.
We wizards cannot close our eyes to such problems – we hid all those centuries ago to be safe - but today hiding from the muggles is not enough to be protected, because large areas will be affected. This means we need to get involved. Fristly, an international co-operation between wizards in all countries is crucial to consider these issues. Secondly, we need to use the direct link between our Ministry and the muggle government to consult with them about this problem, and contribute to a solution as best we can – as far as the Statute of Secrecy allows.

But there is more to muggles than those dangerous consequences of their technological advance. In the last few centuries muggles have had many ideas that may be useful to us, too, and it is particularly important to take a close look at muggle science, philosophy and politics.

- They have learned to understand nature in a way that is very different from ours, but which would be useful to us, too, to complement our magical sciences. I know that my running mate, Neville Longbottom, has a high esteem for the muggle science of botany, which complements wizard herbology in very fruitful ways.
- Muggles have refined the study of languages, from their history, and relationships to structure and phonetic building blocks. Research into new spells in our world tends to based on experiment – but I would suggest that the muggles’ understanding of languages, especially also their study of ancient languages such as Latin, could contribute significantly to our research into new spells and magical theory.
- Last but not least, in the last few centuries, muggles have developed fascinating ideas about politics, while (it has to be said) until recently the Wizarding World has been woefully behind in these issues. We should look into muggle’s thoughts about Human Rights and consider how these principles apply to wizards and sentient magical creatures. The Wizarding World would also benefit greatly from introducing a number of measures that would make our community more accountable and democratic. I hope to say more about this another time, but I am thinking about a strict division of executive, legislature and jurisdiction, freedom of the press, habeas corpus (an ancient muggle term; protection from detention without trial), and more generally protection of citizen’s privacy, freedom and property from the power of the state.

Apart from considering muggle ideas, we should simply make sure that they are not quite so strange to us. As we all know, our younger generation has fewer qualms about venturing out into the muggle world, and they have less of a problem to understand how muggles behave and dress. I think that this is a good thing – if we try to achieve complete separation we are only hurting ourselves by putting severe restrictions on our freedom of movement: after all, this island is very densely populated with muggles, and we really don’t want to think of most of our country as no-go areas!

All in all – don’t underestimate muggles. Yes, they have to get by without magic, but they have also achieved a lot, and they have given thought to many aspects of the world which we wizards rarely bother to enquire about. I was moved when I saw back in those dark days of 1997/8 how may wizards went to great lengths to protect muggle neighbours, and I think that ever since then, an interest in the muggle world has grown among us. I may be biased – after all, some of my closest relatives are muggles – but I really think it’s worth to know muggles, and it’s also worth listening to them sometimes.

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