"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."—J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997)
In the U.S., this first of the Harry Potter novels substitutes “Sorcerer’s” for “Philosopher,” but we’ll stick here with the British (and the film) title.
Rowling, in the voice of the kindly, wise headmaster of Hogwarts Academy, Albus Dumbledore, is correct. In fact, I would argue, it might take not just as much, but more bravery to stand up to friends than enemies. After all, you have lost nothing when an enemy is against you, but the pain of losing a friend—even if it’s because of standing up for something you truly believe in—is infinitely worse.
(The image accompanying this post, of course, comes from the Harry Potter films with the first actor to portray Dumbledore, Richard Harris. Michael Gambon is an amazing actor, but I’ll always have a special spot in my heart for his predecessor in the role. Of all the film actors I can think of, I can’t think of another whom I’d like to hear telling a story, in all its hilarious—and, often, hilariously profane—glory, in his inimitable Irish brogue. And Harris was a genuinely great actor, as you can tell from his first decade in the movies, the 1960s—when he made that classic of British “angry young man” cinema, This Sporting Life—and his last decade, the 1990s and early 2000s, when he appeared in The Field and the first two Harry Potter films before his death.)