Neo’s face showed no expression as Morpheus sat in the antique leather chair opposite. It was not that Neo did not feel anything, it was just that his recent experiences had left him so confused he no longer knew what to feel. Morpheus broke the silence of Neo’s confusion.
“You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you’ve felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. The truth is that you are a slave. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison – for your mind.
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up and believe, whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, and I show you just how deep the deception goes.”
Reality is not what Neo thought it was. It is not what we think it is either.
The illusion of Western society is already beginning to be shattered: Two world wars in the twentieth century, followed by the financial crisis in our own. Yet, the issue is not Hitler or our finance system, as the fault lines can be seen everywhere – if we but look. While we await a better society, the postmodern thinkers, like the boy in the Hans Christian Andersen tale, stand at the sidelines and declare that the emperor has no clothes. There is something wrong in the world.
Illusions may be when they shield us from staring hopelessly into the abyss. We may prefer to not see things as they are, but to remember how they were – or at least romantically imagine it. Or we may prefer to believe it will all turn out for the better, once this next election is out of the way, or once we get past the current crisis. Unfortunately, neither option is true, for the truth is actually uncomfortably close to the fiction: We are slaves born into bondage.
Neo was not sure if he believed what he heard, but he had a choice. He could take the blue pill and return to the world as it was before, or he could take the red pill, which could only offer truth. A truth though that would disrupt his life.
[Morpheus (edited) quote and references from the 1999, Warner Bros film ‘The Matrix’]