Fans of the 1999 Wachowski brothers' movie "The Matrix" will well recall the words "I don't want to remember nothing". They were uttered by the character "Cypher" (actor Joe Pantoliano) in a conversation with Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) when Cypher discusses his reward for betraying the resistance movement. He asks to have his memory erased of the existence of The Matrix. He would remember nothing about the truth. Who hasn't felt this way? I have....
The scene is in a restaurant where Cypher is eating a delicious steak and enjoying a fine wine. (Watch it for yourself at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7BuQFUhsRM.) Cypher savors every bite and sniffs the wine. Bliss. He is inside the Matrix. Everything he is tasting and smelling as a computer-generated illusion. When he unplugs himself he will have to face reality. A reality of a grim fight for survival against The Machines who now dominate the world. The Machines run the Matrix and are locked in a subterranean-death-struggle with humanity. Cypher has become tired of fighting. He is so disillusioned that he prefers the fantasy of the Matrix to the truth.
"After nine years you know what I realise? Ignorance is bliss." he says before going on to add: "I don't want to remember nothing. NOTHING. You understand? And I want to be rich, you know, someone important..."
There are times I wish I could go back to 1999. Twelve years ago nobody cared about how much oil we had left or whether climate change was a serious issue. I, like many in my peer group, was pursuing a well paid professional career and thought about nothing more than the next fast car I was going to buy. I have had a few of those. But by 2001 I started to notice that everything about this world was not quite as it seemed. Events came to a head on September 11th that year and I took the red pill: I picked up a book by Richard Heinberg called "The Party's Over".
Nothing has been the same since. Life seemed to fast forward until the point I was reading James Howard Kunstler's "The Long Emergency" and watching Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth". Nobody can tell you what the Matrix is - you have to see it for yourself. I had seen it. By August 2005 I had solar panels on my roof and a new condensing boiler.
I had never wanted this. I would much have preferred to maintain my ignorance. Even today I could happily switch back if I had the power. I too could remain in perpetual bliss and laugh at the "delusions" of the environmentalists. But once the truth gets embedded in your head it won't be unlearnt. The truth is thus: it is improbable that this fantasy of life can continue on its current trajectory forever. Once you take the red pill you reject fantasy and embrace reality. In the embrace of the truth you just know that you had to be part of the solution. If you did not you would not be able to look at yourself in the mirror again.
Fast forward to today and I have done everything in my meager power to get everyone else to see the Matrix from the outside. Like Cypher I too am tired. I am fully aware that everything we see is unreal but, like he, I am disillusioned. It seems like so many people "get it" but our community refuses to. Sometimes you just want to go back to 1999 and pretend none of this ever happened.
But Pandora's Box has been opened. We now live in a world where Investment Bankers write the books about Peak Oil. Conservative MP's tell Parliament how to mitigate the risk of climate change. Our Prime Minister and the President of France tell us that GDP cannot measure happiness. The Federation of Small Businesses tell us to "Keep Trade Local". Sometimes it looks like the entire World is in Transition. Everyone, it seems, apart from our communities. Only our friends and neighbours - the very people who matter - stubbornly refuse to believe the awful/wonderful truth. For them it is the blue pill every time.
Can we have the courage to take the red pill and wake up from the dream? Or shall I take the blue pill and stop bothering everyone? Choose.
But whatever the choice - it won't change the outcome. I have not seen a shred of evidence that has shown my reality to be unreal. Fantasy cannot change reality. We should choose wisely.
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