From the title, you can tell this will likely have something to do with the television show Game of Thrones. And it does. For those of you who have not seen the fifth season, especially the final episode, this is your spoiler alert.
First, let me say that I am not attempting to promote this show. It is not exactly “Christian” entertainment. It is my intention to be thorough enough in my description that you will get the point even if you’ve never seen the show.
A little bit of background for those who have not seen this show…
Jon Snow is one of the lead characters in this multifaceted parallel storyline. Most of the characters are scheming how to take the Iron Throne and rule the Seven Kingdoms. Jon Snow is not one of those schemers. He is a bastard child with no claim. He knows this and so he decided he would enlist in the “noble” pursuit of being one of the Men of the Night’s Watch. The Men of the Night’s Watch is an organization that you cannot leave once you join; you are there for life. If you leave, you will be counted a deserter beheaded.
In Jon’s mind, it is a noble pursuit, for the Men of the Night’s Watch are tasked with protecting the realms from the dangers north of the Wall. There are Wildlings and dire wolves and giants and endless snow north of the Wall. The Wall is literally a huge wall of ice that separates what is north of the Wall from the Seven Kingdoms. So, of course, the Men of the Night’s Watch are protectors, and that is why Jon sees this task as being noble and necessary, and maybe even heroic. And his Uncle is in the Night’s Watch as well, so that’s an added bonus for him.
There are some other aspects to being a Man of the Night’s Watch. First, they are separated from the affairs of the Kingdoms; your past sins are essentially erased. Granted, you have to give up your name and family and rank and everything else. You can never marry or father children or be with anyone. Because of this, the typical recruits tend to be less than honorable. It’s more likely that people are sentenced to exile to the Wall than to go voluntarily, and many make it to the service of the Night’s Watch by recruiters clearing out the dungeons of the kingdoms.
Fast forward to season five. Jon Snow gets elected to be the Lord Commander, which is the highest rank of the Night’s Watch. That was unexpected since many of the Men of the Night’s Watch either hate him or are jealous of him.
There are these things called “White Walkers” north of the Wall. Basically, they are frozen zombies. It seems the White Walkers are gathering all the dead north of the Wall and heading south. That’s kind of an issue.
Now, one of the things the Men of the Night’s Watch have to protect the realms from is Wildlings. These are “free people” who live north of the Wall. They are actual people, not a sub-human, brainless animal, though they may seemingly be more savage than the “civilized folk” south of the Wall. The Men of the Night’s Watch hate Wildlings. The Free People (Wildlings) hate the Crows (the Men of the Night’s Watch, so-called because they wear all black). They have been basically at war with each other for like thousands of years.
Anyways, Jon, being Lord Commander, sees the threat of the White Walkers and tries to figure out a solution, since he is responsible for protecting the Seven Kingdoms from everything north of the Wall. White Walkers are north of the Wall. Wildlings are north of the Wall. So it seems like you could let one enemy kill the other enemy, right? Well, the problem is, the White Walkers are zombies, so the more they kill, the bigger their army becomes.
So Jon Snow proposes to forge an alliance with the Wildlings. He recommends bringing the Wildlings south of the Wall where they can live and still be free if they promise to help fight the White Walkers should they breach the Wall.
By my thinking, this is a much better plan than just letting the undead hoard grow and hope they don’t come our way.
So what happens? Jon Snow succeeds in forging and alliances with the Wildlings, leading a lot of the Wildlings, and a giant, south of the Wall because they agreed to his terms. Seems like a success, right? The last scene several people of the Men of the Night’s Watch tricked Jon into coming outside and they all take turns stabbing him in the chest.
Now, that really shouldn’t be surprising for anyone who watches this show, for they kill everyone you ever like.
So, why have I bothered writing all this, recapping a show that some of you are likely judging me for watching?
I believe we are blind. Not so much that we lack the ability to see but rather we cause ourselves to be blinded. By rage, by hatred, by differences, by indifference, by jealousy, by greed, by the pain of our past; by whatever issue we refuse to let go.
In this example, people’s prejudice and hatred for an entire group of people blinded them from seeing the bigger picture. Yes, many Wildlings have murdered many innocent people. Some of those victims were likely family members of some of the Night’s Watchmen. The Wildlings are a different people with different viewpoints and a different culture with a different way of life.
But instead of rallying behind their leader and rejoicing in a good plan and praising the miraculous victory of creating an alliance that no one thought possible, several Men of the Night’s Watch labeled Jon Snow a traitor and murdered him.
How many of us do that today? How many of us refuse to let go of the pain of yesterday? How many of us are blinded by prejudice? How many of us have a twisted view of the world because we never fully healed from something that happened so long ago that we forgot why we were mad to begin with? And how many of us would rather rally against those whose aim is progress that happens to be against what we’ve always known just because we refuse to see the situation from a different perspective?
The bane of innovation and progress is lack of vision and there is no vision when one is blinded.
Is it really that difficult to see things from a different perspective?
Take the issue of abortion for example. On one side, there is pro-life; on the other, pro-choice. It is not the case that those who are pro-choice are anti-life, or that those who are pro-life are anti-choice, although some probably do see it that way.
Typically, if there are opposing views of a given topic, it is not because the two groups are exactly opposed in view, but that the perspective is different.
Those who support “pro-life” believe that life is precious and that life is not limited to “after birth” and therefore believe aborting a child is a type of murder. Those who support “pro-choice” believe that a woman should have the ability to choose what she does with her own body, whether from a standpoint of what demands a pregnancy would involve in a physical and medical sense, or from standpoint of being able (or ready, or willing) to provide for a child as a parent.
I have my own stance, but it is irrelevant to my point. I mention it only because I can see both perspectives and I can understand where people are coming from on both sides of the issue and I can still respect those who have a difference of opinion from me. But is that the norm? I don’t think it is any more. I think it’s much easier to vilify those who have a difference of opinion rather than actually trying to see where people are coming from.
I believe we should choose to no longer be blind. I believe we should strive for understanding. I believe we should challenge our perspectives. Because, if what we believe in is not strong enough to be questioned, why should we even bother believing?