Survival is not pretty

Ned Stark was an awful father

Ned: You want me to serve the woman who murdered my king, who butchered my men, who crippled my son?!
Varys: I want you to serve the realm! Tell the Queen you will confess your vile treason, tell your son to lay down his sword and proclaim Joffrey as the true heir! Cersei knows you as a man of honour; if you give her the peace she needs, and promise to carry her secret to your grave, I believe she will allow you to take the black and live out your days on the Wall, with your brother and your bastard son.
Ned: (laughs) You think my life is some precious thing to me? That I would trade my honour for a few more years of…of what?! You grew up with actors; you learned their craft and you learnt it well. But I grew up with soldiers. I learned how to die a long time ago.
Varys: Pity. Such a pity. (Varys moves to leave, but turns back for one last word) What of your daughter’s life, my lord? Is that a precious thing to you? (Spoiler: Ned chose his honor over his own fucking daughter, who ended up getting raped and tortured repeatedly)

Years ago, I wrote a letter to my son, telling him about our family motto, “Survive.”

I had a number of people tell me how much that entry spoke to them but, in my head, I knew they didn’t really understand what I was saying.

Because they looked at it as some noble, honorable thing, when it was the exact opposite of that.

One guy I knew thought it was such a deep entry, but we clashed years ago about – of all things – Ned on Game of Thrones.

He’s the same guy who, like most people, completely doesn’t understand what “Survival of the fittest,” means

You see, I think Ned Stark was an awful father. Let’s run through the list:

      • Robb Stark – Murdered after he executed Rickard Karstark and the Karstarks abandon his army
      • Sansa Stark – see above. She suffered until she learned to be cold and survive.
      • Arya Stark – Survives because she’s precisely the opposite of what Ned hoped her to be.
      • Bran Stark – crippled but survives because he’s 10 when Ned dies
      • Rickon Stark – Killed
      • Theon Greyjoy (ward/foster son) – Hoo-boy, you don’t wanna know
      • Jon Snow (foster son) – Survives but only because he dies first

This dude was so upset that I said Ned was a bad father – note that he’s not a father himself – that he kicked me. That was the one of the last times I ever saw him.

A grown-ass 50 year-old man kicked me over a fictional guy. Jesus Christ. That tells you everything you need to know about him and why he and his business are struggling.

But, on a deeper level, it goes to a fundamental misunderstanding of what I wrote and mean.

Survival is not – at all – pretty.

Think about what survives things: Rats, roaches, weeds.

These aren’t pretty, glorious, honorable things. These are the things that don’t care about anything but surviving.

When I killed that rat last week ago, I felt nothing. He was huge and bit the shit outta what I was using to drown him.

If the roles were reversed, there wouldn’t be a moment’s hesitation of that rat trying to end me to survive. I respected that it fought to live, but it was it or me.

Ned taught his kids honor, duty, pride, politeness, etc.

That’s all fine and good, but if it’s a choice between my honor and my kid, fuck honor every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

You want me to bend the knee so my kid is ok? Which knee do you want?

Ned died – as did his wife, and two of his kids, while the rest suffered immensely –  because he did the noble thing, rather than the right thing.

The right thing woulda been to survive, protect his family, his sons and daughters, and – as Varys noted – the people of the realm.

How many people died in his family and throughout the kingdom(s) because of his honor, whatever the fuck that means? Based on his conversation with Varys, it sounds more like his pride at work.

I survive things, even when I don’t wanna. Because I’m this kid’s guard. That’s the reason why I’m here.

My buddy and his bullshit 14 year-old ideas of parenting and honor can go pound sand.

Friend: If we go to war with China or Russia, I’m finding you.
Me: (laughing) Why ?
Him: Because, out of everyone I know, you’re the one most likely to survive.
Me: OK. First things first, we get the fuck off the island and make it to NJ. Then we head west.

Location: earlier today, W 18th Street, having a beer with an almost relative
Mood: amused
Music: I spent so many nights just thinking how you’d done me wrong (Spotify)
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