As Daenerys sat atop Drogon at King’s Landing and listened to the bells toll surrender, she had a choice to make. For some odd reason she chose the total destruction of King’s Landing, along with a population of common people she had spent her young life protecting. Inexplicable, bad storytelling in my opinion, but the plotline nonetheless. She chose an Armageddon.
Ur confronts a similar choice in the final battle with the Lie, No-Side, or Bildad Proud as he was called in Sun Valley Moon Mountains. At Borodino should she retreat, attack or use an arsenal of atomics to win the battle. The decision is an ethical one. And as we will see, ethics are messy. Some think there are invariant codes of behavior for all situations. This can’t be because of the nature of the species.
Humans are both a social and a solitary species. This requires different choices depending upon circumstances. This does not suggest all moral systems are equally valid. But it does suggest that we may have to change templates given circumstances. The great social ethical system is Utilitarianism: the greatest good for the greatest number. It is almost an imperative when dealing with large numbers; a war, an epidemic, even something more benign like the choice of a healthcare system for a nation.
However much, or most, of our time is spent, if not in a solitary state then in smaller, more private relationships. What does ‘greatest good’ mean in that context? Here we default to another major western system of thought based on Immanuel Kant’s ‘Categorical Imperative’. As with most of Kant, this is pretty dense stuff. It claims all moral decisions must be able to be applied universally. This is an almost impossible requirement. Exceptions always can be found. But the Categorical Imperative has been compared loosely to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule is a good approximation and useful in most interpersonal interaction.
While Ur wishes to save both the Northern and Southern forces, to secure a future for them and for the planet, she also realizes that the real issue is not simply global equity, geopolitics or geoeconomic equity. It is a battle for people’s souls. No-Side, the Lie, wants the individual to impute all injustice to forces outside of oneself; to place all blame for circumstance or personal misfortune on others. To rationalize one’s own actions. If she uses WMD’s will she win the battle but lose the war.
Ur also realizes that there is another side to ethics, one found in Eastern philosophy. Nothing, no one, is either all good or all bad. This makes the issue more complicated and means that any moral choice may have both good and bad consequences. Many choices are 51-49 decisions and, so, unsatisfying for those who prefer precise moral clarity.
Daenarys Targaryen had special powers. She could take a blowtorch to the body like no one else. Ur also has enormous powers. She can travel time and worldlines, she can spin through walls and she can dissolve reality if she wishes. But she is constrained by her own rules to not become involved in decisions. She merely ‘suggests’, as she says. But this choice at Borodino has deep consequences. What will she decide?
‘Kutusov’s Dream’, Book 3 of the ‘Ur Legend’ will be out, I hope, in July. You will find the answer there and decide for yourself if Ur’s choice is the one you would have made.