“In this game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground”. While this quote is by a character in George R R Martin’s popular novel ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ it rings true in real life today more than ever.
As the world mourns the widely admired late Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, the longest serving female head of state in history, we were also reminded of the legacy of empires in general, and of a dark part of the of British colonisation that is still impacting people in many parts of the world.
I truly believe that what many around the world diplomatically dub as “the mixed legacy of an empire” serves today as a great reminder that societies must invest in the objective reading history, with the purpose of deducing useful knowledge and lessons for all humanity.
This could be done in investing in three values; abundance, objectivity and truthfulness.
Building a culture of abundance
Perhaps the first lesson from reading history objectively is that adopting a game of thrones mentality of “win or die” means a vicious cycle of destruction and revenge. This vicious cycle, such as in the case of the Crusades, leave societies so traumatised that it is still resulting in conflicts a millennia after the events.
It is up to us today to choose to make tough choices and take roads less travel by negotiations and conflict resolutions.
There are two main mindsets in negotiations; either that of abundance of resources in a way that is enough for everyone, or scarcity mindset that inevitably leads to “us” vs. “them” behaviour.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of each one of us to be as creative as possible in facilitating a culture of abundance for the sake of our present and future.
Investing in objectivity
“History is written by the victor” is a common saying when we discussed past events, but it does not mean that we should make deliberate efforts to respect and listen to the different views about those events.
We live in the most connected times ever, and it is impossible to completely control people’s access to information. This is the reason why it is not enough to complain about the legacy of empires or past conflicts without taking a step further in believing in our common destiny.
For example, nostalgy has kept many Muslim majority countries in a glorious past that can be regarded by some societies like an expansion of an empire.
While the decision to be critical of “your own people” is tough it is the optimal way to instilling sustainable objectivity in people for generations to come.
Fighting fake news
Technology is making it easier today to wage an information war to win people’s hearts and minds, where sometimes heroes become villains and vice versa, as in the Russian war on Ukraine.
Without protecting present and future generations from a rabbit hall of misinformation on social media tools we will end up perpetuating the same roots of conflicts that bring nothing but more war, famine, and diseases.
The way we consume media today is favouring breaking news even when it is not real, if we want to build forward better we need to stop feeding this fake news beast.