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Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Game of Thrones (2011) - Honesty is the Worst Policy


Wise men said - Honesty is the best policy. They obviously didn't know Ned Stark or watch Game of Thrones.

One thing that Game of Thrones repeatedly teaches us is that honesty is of very little practical use in politics and life in general. Ned Stark is the best example of how honesty and honour can get a person killed and his family destroyed.

Ned Stark - the Honourable Hero and Fool

Ned Stark, the lord of Winterfell was loved and respected by everyone in his land solely due to his stoic sense of honesty and honour, until the Lannisters started fearing him for that very quality, which eventually got him executed.

When Prince Joffrey lied to the King about how Arya's wolf attacked him without any provocation, the wolf was nowhere no be found. However, Queen Cersei demanded that Sansa's wolf be killed instead, as a punishment to the Stark girls.

King Robert Baratheon was Ned Stark's friend and was in a very benevolent mood that evening, almost willing to believe Arya, knowing what a piece of jackass his own son Joffrey was. 

What does Ned do?
  • He decides to honour the wishes of Cersei and kills Sansa's wolf with his own hands - for what? Honour and righteousness - what a hypocrisy! 
  • If Ned was so righteous, he should have believed in justice for the wrongdoer, Joffrey in this case, not punishment for the victims - Arya and her friend, the butcher's son.
  • At the very least, Ned could have just released Sansa's wolf into the wilderness and claimed it dead - who would question a lord? Even 10-year old Arya had the good sense to make her wolf escape.
Ned Stark: Sorry Summer, I choose honour over trust in my own daughter, therefore I must kill you.
Golden rule 1
ALWAYS put your family first. Duty and honour comes later, especially when it is for a lazy, drunken, man-whore of a king and his mean, lying wife and son.

Ned knew that Petyr Baelish was a disgruntled ex-lover of his wife Lady Catelyn (probably loved her even now). When Catelyn insisted that Baelish would help them investigate the previous Hand of the King, John Arryn's suspected murder, Ned decided to trust him.

Golden rule 2
NEVER trust the ex-lover of your wife, especially when he still claims to love her.

Ned Stark - This Time Just a Fool

Once in King's Landing, Petyr started feeding information to Ned Stark about King Robert's bastard children and Jon Arryn's quest to track them down before he was poisoned. While chasing the leads, Ned discovered Joffrey and all other children of Cersei had been fathered by her twin brother Jaime Lannister aka the Kingslayer.

An outrageously stupid Ned confronted Queen Cersei and threatened to reveal her deadly secret once King Robert was back from hunting. Desperate to protect her acts of deceit, Cersei had Robert drugged during the hunt where he got attacked by a wild boar.

What does Ned do?
  • He continued to stay in King's Landing after his only friend, the king has been fatally attacked and he is surrounded by enemies who have openly threatened him.
  • Renly asked Ned to join him and take over the throne. Ned refuses and tells him that Stannis is the true heir to the throne. Looks around you Ned, where is Stannis?
Golden rule 3
When you learn a deadly secret about your vicious enemy, you DO NOT go confront them and then reveal your next plans to them.

The lazy drunken king was dead, after he signed a parchment specifying Ned Stark would act as the guardian of the Joffrey and rule until Joffrey came of age. This was done with no witnesses present, a common sense that two big leaders should have had. When Ned gives the parchment to Queen Cersei, she tears it up in front of the entire court and demands Ned to bow before Joffrey.

Golden rule 4
A will has ABSOLUTELY NO VALUE unless there are witnesses.

Ned Stark - Takes Foolishness to a New Level

After being cornered in the court, Ned Stark should have just pretended to swear allegiance to Cersei and Joffrey, knowing that two of his daughters, Sansa and Arya were at the mercy of the Lannisters.

What does Ned do?
  • He trusts Petyr Baelish once again and actually believes that the Kingsguard would rebel against the new king.

Golden rule 5
When in enemy's camp, it is better to bend than to break. You cannot take your revenge if you are dead.

After the series of betrayal from several people and living in the dungeons for several days, Lord Varys tells Ned Stark to confess to treason so that his life may be spared and his daughters will be safe. While Varys did have Ned's best interest at heart - look around you Ned! There are traitors everywhere. Do not believe in their promises. 

What does Ned do?
  • He publicly confesses to a crime he did not commit and faced execution anyway.

Golden rule 6
NEVER confess to a crime you did not commit, especially when the enemy is demanding a confession. If you have to go down, go down as an innocent man rather than a confessed traitor.

Golden rule 7
Learn from your past mistakes. Do not repeat the same mistakes again and again.


As you can see, a true man of honour should also know the value of justice. One cannot exist without the other. The innocent should never be punished and the guilty should never go unpunished. The one who stoops to honour and duty without reason is stupid and cowardly.

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