A great feature of Game of Thrones is that it teaches us about reality while it entertains. One example is illustrating how so few people are purely good or evil. Even those we consider purely good or evil are actually, under a keen eye, mixtures of many things.
Two people who embody this are Theon Greyjoy and George Bush.
I wrote back in the beginning of 2007 that Bush isn’t evil in the way that many people think he is. I argued that he was basically a mediocre person born into a life of privilege who lacked respect from his peers and betters.
He especially lacked the respect of his father, so when he was told that going into Baghdad was hopelessly stupid, he took that to be a challenge that could earn him the respect he’s always wanted.
Basically he wished he was Ronald Reagan. He wished people loved him. He wished people respected him. And due to stupidity he abused his powers to pursue that goal.
Theon Greyjoy did the same. He was basically a good person. He loved his brothers–even know they were also his captors. He wanted to become something. And most of all he wanted the respect of his father. As a result, when given power, he became something he wished he hadn’t. He became something much worse than he was.
When I see both of these men I don’t see evil. I see circumstance inflicted on humans. I see a cocktail of weakness, ignorance, ambition, and hurt. I know it doesn’t excuse the behavior, but for me an explanation of the cause weakens the blows.
But I see where it comes from, and that matters.
Look for the Bush’s and Greyjoy’s in your life. Beware of their flailing arms, as they can hurt you, but do not mistake them for demons. And when they stop swinging have a go at helping them.