Daenerys Targaryen and the Freedom to Disagree

An heir to the Targaryen dynasty, Daenerys spends her childhood in exile and, indeed, combats Life to lay claim to the Throne  As the saga concludes, this electrifying and shrewd lady, who so far has been inclined to fight for the right, unleashes a slaughter of a large civilian population. Jon confronts her about this and pleads with her to take a position of forgiveness. Daenerys refuses saying -- "The world we need won't be built by men loyal to the world we have", that she wishes to build a new world with Jon, and knows what is good. Jon asks, ”What about everyone else....all the other people who think they know what is good?”  Daenerys responds -- ”They don't get to choose."

i think this is the moment when Jon decides -- and kills her -- the moment he sees  the person he loves turn into a dictator. They don't get to choose.”

With this death, the television rendition of the Game of Thrones broke hearts and set off a raging battle on whether the story had ended well. Social media is as ablaze with this as with impeachment, migration, and terrorism. 

i have been thinking about "they don't get to choose" -- a statement that says there is no dialogue with different points of view and, those who think differently are better off not existing.

Christopher Hitchens writes (of the scientific spirit that he and others advocate in God is not Great) that "We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake. We do not hold our convictions dogmatically" and shall resolve differences ”by evidence and reasoning and not by mutual excommunication."

i think the spirit that Christopher conveys is important. Being otherwise condemns each of us to become islands that resist attempts to build bridges. This creates stagnation in learning and leads to an enforced uniformity in thinking, perception, and imagination.

The ”they don't get to choose” world-view is also dangerous. From corporate Boardrooms to street corners, from seats of governments to neighbours, in media and across dining tables -- we see differences come alive everywhere. We cannot wish them away. Any attempt to suppress these without dialogue will only result in these differences becoming, in the words of Stephen Fry, “dangerous realities". Stephen, in his talk at the 2018 Festival of Dangerous Ideas, cautions that something of this nature is already at play in contemporary society as we "shriek more and more incontinently at....perceived enemies across the divide" completely oblivious to the fact that this is making us as ”blind as moles, engaged in ugly, unappealing struggles....and....fatuous, outmoded notions, while the planet on which we depend for life is gasping for air and a technological tsunami threatens to engulf us and redefine us without our consent." 

Clearly, answers to the major problems confronting us do not lie in one head or one region of the planet. Despite this, instead of attempting to understand, dialogue, build together and carry everyone along -- a lot of us appear to be saying ”they don't get to choose".

Accepting the 2003 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade (awarded earlier to luminaries such as Albert Schweitzer, and Sarevepalli Radhakrishnan) my Teacher, Susan Sontag, speaks of the chasms we are creating among us, and asks -- ”Are we....really so separate?"  i don't think we are -- and, for me, that means they get to choose.