‘Game of Thrones’: An insight into climate change or even farming?

By John McHugh, dairy farmer, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

George RR Martin’s fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’ has captured the imaginations of many. It is difficult to avoid the feeling that great lessons are being slowly revealed despite its fantastical nature.

As the egos of “the seven kingdoms” grapple for power in the series, they race towards their impending destruction from an unseen and beyond-belief source currently residing in the far north beyond “the wall” (think of a fantasy equivalent of the Great Wall of China, or Hadrian’s Wall in the UK).

“Winter is coming” or “the night is long and full of terror” is echoed by believers, but for most this is merely a distraction in the race for power.

Beyond the wall, an “army of the dead” march seeking the destruction of all things living and are carefully controlled and orchestrated by the “white walkers”. The “undead” of Game of Thrones could be seen to represent something within us all, our destructive side and willingness to put ourselves above nature and independent of it.

The “white walkers” represent the control mechanisms that we blindly follow, the dehumanised system beyond ethics and morals that feeds our destructive nature, selling us the half-truths that appeal to the greed and other negative emotions within us all.

Real-life examples of this could include elements of the tobacco industry, sugar industry and banking industries – all of which have been found guilty of selling these half-truths, the latter collapsing the Irish economy in the process.

The coming years will reveal if other industries such as the agro-chemical, bio-technology and pharmaceutical – all which arouse the mistrust of many – join this group.

The wall itself, which keeps out these nightmarish creatures, could be seen as a wall in our consciousness, beyond which we can choose to believe or not.

South of the wall, each ego demands the submission of the others, to bend the knee and kneel at the altar of their higher truth. We could view these as the various authorities, lobby groups, representative bodies – the long list of groups selling their ideas which undoubtedly hold some truth from their perspective but, as of yet, remain unable to unite these ideas to find a higher truth and work together towards our common goal.

The egos involved are often strong and confident that their version of the truth is the full truth, hence remaining unwilling to view things from the many other perspectives.

The analogies are many and could continue. The series is also very unpredictable so even a Hollywood ‘happy ending’ is not guaranteed, but maybe it presents a platform to explore how we could create our own.

The first step is realising that we have a problem, and it hides within us all. This is our own destructive nature and a system (to which we are slaves of) that brings it out in us all.

Climate change, mass extinctions, oceanic dead zones, soil degradation, war, financial collapse – the list could go on – are all the outward manifestations or mere symptoms of this real problem.

Focusing on any one symptom while ignoring the problem will just lead us from problem to problem, replacing one destructive technology with another.

Competition, exploitation and greed are the vehicle, fuel and driver of our present-day society. The energies that propel this system are all negative-orientated. We are all pitted in a race to get ahead of those around us, terrified to stop in fear of falling behind and never again catching up.

These have allowed our society to move at great pace over the past 100 years but the consequences that are fast approaching are calling the direction into question.

In agriculture, we are driven by output, profit and scale and so long as we measure success solely on these parameters we will continue to race forward in the same direction with exploitation winning out over regeneration.

Is it any wonder there is considerable disillusionment amongst society with politics within this negative-orientated system? New faces or new parties will be either frustrated, institutionalised or corrupted by the negative drivers.

The various shades of grey on offer aren’t motivation for many to even vote; many more just spread their votes as far and wide as possible to try prevent the power from concentrating.

We are so invested in this negative-orientated system that we can’t contemplate any better reality. The Russians retrospectively labelled the denial and lack of understanding that prevailed around the dying years of the Soviet Union as “Hypernormalisation”. “Nero fiddled as Rome burns” also suggests that there is a historical precedence for this denial.

Could we possibly be living through such a paradigm shift? Will we awaken one day to find that some unforeseen event has just changed all the rules?

Is it naive to think that the time has come to replace a soulless, negative-orientated system with a community based on the positive-orientated poles of the emotions that currently drive us?

Could cooperation, regeneration and kindness be equally as powerful drivers and form the foundations of a new system that brings all with it in a positive direction, as opposed to a pyramid scheme that is making stress, depression and suicide everyday problems as we tread on those around us to climb the ladder?

Is the solution simply to stop racing blindly with the herd, gradually withdrawing compliance and weeding out the negative drivers of greed, exploitation and so on in every way we can?

All who wander are not lost; if we don’t wander off a destructive path can we create a better future by finding a new path?

Maybe that’s a fantasy that even Game of Thrones won’t venture into. Put the head down and power on.