I'm a little obsessed with Game of Thrones. I've already raved about how it's fantastic for its amazing portrayal of strong women, but the show's genius goes beyond that. The complexities of the plot are gripping, and the characters are so nuanced that you can relate to an aspect of almost every single one of them, even if their lives are so distant from our own. Similarly, even though the themes that run throughout the series take place in a fictional, medieval world, they still relate to reality. Here are 4 themes of GoT that brilliantly parallel the modern day world:
1. Power can never be truly "absolute":
While sitting on the Iron Throne can often seem like one has absolute power (as Joffrey truly believes he does), you can never truly have total power. Power maintained by fear, threats of violence, and media blackouts can only work for so long. Eventually, a system built on fear will collapse on itself. Sooner or later, that power will be taken from you by someone as power hungry as you are.
In the real world, while a despot can hold the seat of power for decades, it won’t be long something threatens that power. Whether it be an insurgency or death, no one can sit in power forever. And one day, someone or something else will fill that power vacuum. You can't have absolute power when others constantly threaten it.
2. The good guys don't always win:
No one would ever say that killing Ned Stark was fair, or that he deserved to die. No one would say that Joffrey is a good guy. The fact of life is that the bad guys will win sometimes, and the good guys will lose out sometimes. Just like the world within Game of Thrones, the real world can bite you in the ass sometimes, and you won't get what you deserve. The chaos that has ensued from the Boston Marathon bombing shows that bad things can, and will, happen to good people. It’s just how reality works.
3. There is always a moral gray area:
In the fight for power within the Seven Kingdoms, there always seems to be a moral gray area. In order to obtain power, there has to be bloodshed, which seems at some points to require the abandonment of morality together. However, much of this bloodshed is done in the effort to reclaim not only power for selfish reasons, but to avenge unlawful deaths, for self-defense, and to depose of a cruel and evil ruler.
We can see that there are moral gray areas even within U.S. policy. One glaring example is the use of the drone program, or Guantanamo Bay. I do not support either one of these programs, but the fact is that there are no easy decisions when it comes to war, and morality is not black and white. Game of Thrones shows this. However, it is up to us to find the best moral option we can with the cards we’re given with.
4. Peace and prosperity cannot last forever:
In the world of Game of Thrones, the Seven Kingdoms have just experienced a decade of summer and prosperity. However, many believe that this unusually long summer of peace will be followed by an even harsher and longer winter of bloodshed and chaos.
In the real world, no matter how long we are at peace, eventually that peace will be disrupted. We cannot control everything so perfectly as to maintain prosperity indefinitely. Sooner or later, that prosperity and peace will end. What is important is what we do to bring that peace and prosperity back.