Monday, September 18, 2017

The Comfort of Lies

Remember The Matrix? Great film, right? Well, it is as long as you pretend the two followups don't exist. Once you embrace the entire trilogy as one story, it kinda sucks. Okay, more than kinda. But, you know, it's okay to pretend; it's only a movie.

But let's explore that idea a little more.
And, you know, if you haven't seen The Matrix... Well, you'll just have to try and keep up, because I'm not explaining the movie in this post.

As you know, Neo has to make a choice, the choice between Reality and the fabricated world of the Matrix. One is real; one is a lie. The choice is symbolized by the two pills pictured above, the red pill or the blue pill. Of course, we all know which choice Neo is going to make, because the movie would be over if he were to choose to stay in the Matrix. Besides, it's the choice we all tell ourselves that we would make. Of course we would choose to forsake the lie!

But, man, Reality really sucks. (Much like the reality of the subsequent two films.)

Which brings us to Cypher. Cypher, having lived in the real world for quite a while, decides he doesn't like it. He decides he would rather live in a comfortable lie than continue to struggle through Reality. Remember, Reality sucks.

So Cypher cuts a deal with the machines and betrays his friends so that he can re-enter the lie, the Matrix.

The general reaction from the audience at the time was one of bafflement. How could he choose to go back into the Matrix knowing it was a lie? How could he?! But, you know, he tells us all the reasons as he's making the deal. He misses the... comfort... of it. The taste of food (rather than protein mush), the feel of the sun and the wind (rather than the blotted out sky), the ease of living as opposed to the constant life-threatening struggle that was Reality.

And, man, I empathize. Reality sucks, especially this current reality where we (in the United States) live on the teetering edge of authoritarianism and fascism. I get why so many people are choosing to believe the lies Trump pushes. It gives them comfort. It's their blue pill. If they can just believe in Trump enough, they can pretend he's not a racist douche bag and, if he's not a racist douche bag, then they, also, are not racist douche bags. And no one wants to be a racist douche bag. I mean, heck, even the white supremacist Nazi assholes try to pretend that they're not racist douche bags; that's why they go with all the "white pride" shit instead. But they're only fooling themselves.

To be fair, it's not like those on the Left aren't sucking on their own blue pills by continually talking about how we've forgotten the "white working class." This, also, is an appeal to racism and white supremacy. "C'mon white people, we're on your side." Seriously, no one forgot the white working class. In all seriousness, the white working class is doing just fine. The white working class, no matter how they feel about it, is still doing better than people of color. Any color. We need to stop talking about the "white working class" and how they feel left behind or whatever bullshit they want to call their racism. All they're really saying is, "We're worried our superior position is in jeopardy." And everyone else is trying to make them feel better about it while people of color are still getting the shit end of the stick.

Let me give you a practical example of the systemic racism in the system:
As I'm writing this, hurricane Irma is losing power, but the damage has already been done. There are about 45 known deaths to the storm and much of Florida is without power at the moment. Of course, just prior to Irma was Harvey. Harvey is responsible for 70 deaths and major flooding in Texas. These two storms caused huge amounts of destruction and have dominated the news for weeks.

However, in the midst of this, Mexico suffered the worst earthquake its had in a century, leaving around 100 dead. The media barely mentioned it and isn't talking about it anymore. And the news hasn't even mentioned that 2017 has been a harsh year for monsoons (hurricanes) in south Asia. The worst year in decades. So far, there have been almost 1300 confirmed deaths due to these storms and over 40 million people affected, including the destruction of more than 700,000 homes and a massive loss of crops due to flooding which is likely to cause food shortages. But, hey, they're not white, so, you know, big deal.


Look, I'm not diminishing what's happened to people in Houston and in Florida and in the Caribbean. What has happened has been horrible, but it doesn't make it less horrible to remember that other people are suffering, too. Except that, for some people, it does make it less horrible, because, to them, having bought into the Lie, they believe it's Us against Them, anything that happens to Them is okay because they deserve it. Or, maybe, not quite deserve it, but they don't deserve the special protection that white people ought to have from these kinds of events so, somehow, when it happens to white people, it's more tragic. Like when the Greeks only wrote tragedies about nobility because it wasn't tragedy if it happened to the common man.

But we're all common men.

The Lie is that we're not. The Lie is that it's Us (whites) against them (people of any other skin color).

Let me put it another way, to paraphrase Yoda:
My ally is the Truth, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, binds. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Truth flow around you. Here, between you, me, the brown person, and the black, yes, even between all others and the white.
The Truth, what Reality really is, is the we are all us.

We are all us.

(And I didn't even mention the blue pill of climate change denial.)


  1. I agree. I love your red pill/blue pill metaphor too.

  2. It feels like such a struggle. Too many people and their inertia. Too much inertia in the fiction.

  3. This makes me think of the stupid "red pill" subreddit where a bunch of misogynists tell each other that white males are really the victims. Because for some people lies are the only truth and you can't convince them otherwise.

    1. Jeanne: Sometimes, I hate that reddit even exists. I know that it's not the fault of reddit, but that reddit exists has given so many of these people and groups a place to meet and flourish.

  4. I forgot where I heard it, but the quote, "To those accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression" feels very appropriate.

    We can all do better. Living a fantasy is fine as long as you know your in a fantasy. People who actually think being white in America is some sort of burden are, well, I don't have words.

    And yeah, my wife has family scattered all over the Caribbean and the hurricanes have been deadly and devastating. News has been hard to come by. It's frustrating

    1. Also, I meant "you're" up in there, but whatever. I had a lot of booze tonight, and I did that on my phone. I'm rather impressed.

    2. Rusty: Well, I knew what you meant. I hate when I do that kind of thing.

      And, yeah, I don't have words, either. It boggles my mind. It's like the dude standing around complaining about how hard the work is while everyone else is unloading the truck. Or whatever analogy like that you want to use.