Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The Red Pill, or the Blue Pill?

(If you haven’t seen the film,The Matrix, this will be a little harder to follow…)

The other evening, we were sitting and watching (not for the first time) The Matrix, when Michele asked, “Which one would you take?” I let the question go by me, and each of our daughters gave their answer, as did Michele. With the exception of our youngest (who said, “blue”), everyone chose the red pill. I asked each person, “Why?” The answers involved knowing the truth; and freedom; and the pursuit of knowledge. (“Because you can believe what you want to believe,” said the blue pill daughter.)

The question came back to me. I said, “It depends on the circumstances.” Michele, who likes it when she catches me when I appear to be “copping out,” jumped on that one (as well she should). The ensuing discussion took up the rest of the evening; the film (paused as it was in the DVD player) is still there, waiting to be finished.

“What if, “ I said, “the red pill is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?” (The red pill, after all, opens your eyes to the truth of the Matrix; while the blue pill leaves you with your illusions intact.) Posited this way, the proper choice would seem to be the blue pill. Lots of discussion ensued; the assignment of Morpheus to the role of the serpent in the garden, rather than the Promethean role he has in the film, was an interesting sideline. I was asked again, “So which pill would you choose?” I replied, “That depends.”

“What if, having awakened, you have to choose? What if the choice is between receiving the Gospel, or turning your back on it, so that you can, as Morpheus says, ‘believe what you want to believe’?” From this line of reasoning, the proper choice was agreed to be the red pill. “So, which pill would you choose, Dad?” “That depends.”

We revisited some of the earlier arguments, emphasizing the choice of the red pill in order to be free. Free to do what? I asked, at one point, “If you don’t know you’re a slave, do you need to be freed?” If you are in the Matrix, but to you, it’s the real world, and not an illusion that enslaves, do you want to be set free? Do you need to be set free?

Insofar as the film is concerned, the consensus opinion we reached was that for those who knew that they were living in the Matrix (in other words, for whom the Matrix is not the “real” world), taking the blue pill instead of the red would be akin to denying their awareness of the illusion; choosing the illusion instead of the Truth – however unpleasant life lived with the truth instead of the illusion might become.

When Adam and Eve took the red pill of the knowledge of good and evil, in a way, they left the “Matrix” of the Garden of Eden. When Morpheus is being interrogated by Agent Smith, we learn that the first Matrix was a virtual paradise – and a “disaster” – leading the machines, who control the world, and the vast majority of the human race, to conclude that humans are “programmed” to suffer. Humanity is not fit for life in Paradise. Now the choice is ours; not to repeat the choice made by Adam and Eve – that’s no longer an option. Now, we must choose: the red pill of the Gospel; or the blue pill of denial.

Which would you choose? Why?