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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Message of the Matrix

After Morpheus offered Neo the Blue and Red pills, he asked a question that my friend said is one of the most important asked in the history of human existence and meaning:

"What is real? How do you define real? If you're talking about your senses, what you feel, taste, smell, or see, then all you're talking about are electrical signals interpreted by your brain."

Here's Morpheus inviting us to think: is what we believe to be real really all real?

Of course, the way we interpret these lines in the context of the Matrix movie can't apply to real life. But there is an way to apply these these words in a more meaningful manner.

The basic message of the Matrix is that, despite the common observation the truth hurts, and that truth can more likely me more painful and less pleasurable than illusion, the right thing to do is accept truth. Why so? It is more ethical to accept the truth. It is illogical and immoral to keep the illusions up even if they are pleasurable. And why is this?

This is because experience has shown that may illusions actually hide the ugly things beneath, and were created to do so. For example, a person's riches or popularity as a celebrity can only hide their unhappiness in life. Illusions of a stereotypical nuclear family not divorcing and acting as a model family can hide the tensions beneath that unleash the true forces that may tear it apart later (the 1950s were like this, and it gave way to 1960s rebellions). The relative economic health of a company causes it to be complacent, and instead of adapting to change, it resists it, thinking that the good times can last forever. That is another illusion: the good times can last forever.

How do people live in illusion? One of the many illusions of life today is that material goods and riches will bring happiness. But many rich people, as mentioned above, have been unhappy even with riches. Christina Onassis was a rich heiress who committed suicide, despite having everything. Yet the other side also has illusions. Many poor people, probably despaired by their condition, believe that sticking to their relatively unproductive methods instead of learning more, or just drinking the night away will cover up their problems. Thus, they don't find the way out of their poverty, and may even end up harming others.

Philippine culture in the most discreet manner appreciates bigamous relationships. Men believe that it is good to have many women as a sign of their desirability and "greatness" as people. Yet this is another illusion. Even the politicians who strip the people's money for their own gain are living in yet another illusion.

Someone who has an illness or condition may be trying to pretend that he has none. He may believe that just pretending that he doesn't have the illness will effectively eliminate the illness. Thus, the belief in "don't think about it and it won't happen to you" is being applied here. It is one of the most harmful kinds of thinking in this world. This is deceiving oneself. Yet another illusion.

The Matrix movie explores on one theme so commonly known today: there is just something in people that wants them to deny reality. As a Christian, I would say the devil is making people "love lies." But devil or not, people pursue something even if it is not real. They don't care about keeping in touch with reality. They believe that defying reality is the way to go. That is disturbingly a common theme in today's motivationals and inspirationals. It is wrong. The right way is to accept reality and work to change it in a realistic manner.

Another of the outflows of people's hatred of reality (yes, you could call it that), is that person want to control reality. And some believe that they are able to with their thoughts and mental processes! While this may delight people, this is a bad belief. As a Christian who believes in God, I believe God should have every control over reality, which he does - since he created it anyway. But even if God is not considered, just having each human able to control reality for themselves is harmful.

In addition, they will not learn; they will just alter reality according to their whims and be ridiculous and stupid. They will hurt other people and just hurt back when hurt with reality-changing. They will seek only their own satisfaction in reality, and forget others. Giving humans reality changing powers is like giving them a suicide weapon. And no, I don't believe human psychic powers today can change reality. Reality is the one affecting psychic powers. It is not ours to touch.

Unlike in the Matrix, which is a false reality and can be controlled by Neo, our "real reality" cannot be controlled by us. We can only act according to the rules of this reality, among which are ethical rules. Any action we do to break these rules condemns us and causes suffering.

Back to Morpheus' question, are the illusions we so love that real? The illusions of lots of money, control over other people and others are like the Matrix; they keep us from finding the truth and making life better.

The message of the Matrix is that we must accept reality for what it is, and if we want to change it, we should do so with a realistic understanding and ethical methodology.

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