Fiction and Fact. Where does one draw the line when one thing starts influencing the other… could positive stories in fiction somehow help make the world a better place?
Consider the research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology proving kids who read Harry Potter are likely to learn how to be less prejudiced. It goes on to say, reading these books, ‘…improves attitudes toward stigmatized groups (immigrants, homosexuals, refugees).’ and that ‘identification with the main character (Harry Potter) and dis-identification from the negative character (Voldemort) reduced the bias.’
Stories and films such as Harry Potter may at some level inspired a few more young people to try that wand they saw online to put an end to their problems or to get a wish fulfilled. However witchcraft and magic have been in vogue as a practice since ancient times, and are also part of a fast growing religion called Wicca that gained prominence since the 1940s in England. The main underlying belief in Wicca is to ‘Harm None’ and apply one’s will power. Today there are people all over the world trying to cast spells and learn about Magick.
Jediism is a relatively new phenomena. With each Star Wars release there has been a massive increase in people wanting to adopt Jedi-ism as a religion. Yes, the Temple of Jedi order is for real! Based on the values of reason, compassion, non-discrimination and spiritual growth, you can now be a Jedi knight fighting forces of darkness, officially, with a legally binding application, courses, and clergy-hood for those interested. The total number of ‘Jedi Knight’ responses to religion, reported for England and Wales alone was 176,632 in 2011 census and ranked 7th place.
With Jediism becoming a fast growing religion with thousands signing up by day, it looks like people are looking for peace, open-minded beliefs, spiritual awareness and above all hope for our future.
This shows you can consciously choose your faith, belief or religion as you grow and not bound to where you are born or what you are born as, for rest of your life. Especially new faiths and religions that are open-minded and spiritually empowering are in focus today with younger people increasingly less religious and more spiritual in attitude.
But religion and spirituality aside, the inarguable fact that fiction in media affects our reality is no longer ‘stuff and nonsense’. Besides, no one is ever too old for fairy tales!
Bhaskar Dutta is a self-help author and IT specialist based in London.