It’s possible to love even those who hate you.
Perhaps one of Jesus Christ’s most beautiful teachings is His charge to “love your enemies, bless them that curse you, [and] do good to them that hate you.” It’s also one of the hardest to follow. I mean, it’s not always easy to love those who love you, much less those who don’t—but that’s what Severus Snape did.
He loved Lily Potter even in his childhood, but the years strained their bond. Lily eventually refused to even talk to Snape and ended up marrying his worst enemy. However, even when Lily died, Snape’s feelings for her did not. He selflessly placed himself in constant danger in an effort to protect her son, and ultimately gave his life in the process. Ironically, the character in Harry Potter who seemed to have the smallest capacity for love turned out to be the one who loved the most.
Treat people kindly—even when it’s not easy.
Snape was the man. He was utterly awesome. But since that’s out of the way, I’ll be the first to admit that he wasn’t perfect. In fact, he was one of the most two-sided characters I’ve ever encountered in literature. He could be mean, prejudiced, and vengeful. His peers found him reclusive and strange.
As a result, James Potter and his schoolmates made it their life’s mission to torment and bully Snape. On one occasion, they pulled his pants down and dangled him upside down in the air—in front of the girl he loved, no less. The scars from this boyhood abuse stayed with Snape throughout his life, leaving him with a cold and abrasive personality. He even seemed to delight in returning that abuse to his pupils.
I remember my elementary school self being moved by the traumatic and lasting effects of James Potter’s bullying. I learned that even though people have flaws, nobody deserves to be treated unkindly.