Red or blue pill

I’ve been thinking lately about when I first watched The Matrix. I was fortunate enough to catch it before most of my friends, as I happened to be in the US with my job at the time it was released over there in April 1999—meaning that my peer group back in the UK had to put up with me raving about this “incredible” movie for the two months it took to cross the Atlantic. I think they’ve forgiven me.

Ironically, I haven’t watched The Matrix in some years—my tastes have changed a bit, though maybe the time may be coming to revisit the film—but I was reminded this week of one of the key scenes: where Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) gives Neo (Keanu Reeves) a choice between taking two pills. The red pill will ensure that Nao’s life stays precisely as it is—as it transpires, that he will stay inside the Matrix, and the world he “knows” will carry on.

The blue pill, however, will awaken Neo to the real world—harsh, unfamiliar, and controlled by the machines that have subjugated humanity, but real. Neo is confronted by this choice, which Morpheus tells him is irrevocable: after he chooses which pill to swallow, there is no going back.

If you’ve watched The Matrix, you know which choice Neo makes (no, I won’t spoil the surprise even after twelve years—go get the DVD). However, it struck me lately, that I’ve wondered ever since that first viewing, which pill I would’ve gone for in Neo’s place.

I know that personally, I can be cautious, and very inclined to stay within my comfort zone. Comfort zones can feel safe and protected, and one may even believe that it actually is that way when one is inside.

But: what if, one day, you learned that the world you thought you knew all your life—the things, the people, those close to you, yourself—was not as you believed? Would you choose to ignore the new revelations—try and carry on as before, and perhaps even forget in time what you learned? Would you grit your teeth, steel yourself and climb out of your ‘pod’, to begin an uncertain but real “new” life? Or, would you take the third option: sit there staring at the red and green pills, agonising over which “reality” truly deserved the name, totally confused over which is genuine, and which deceives?

Knowing myself as I do, I could imagine myself taking the third option for as long as humanly possible! However, as a Christian, I would like to believe that, should such a choice ever present itself in my life, God would be standing there beside me, to give me wisdom and, ultimately, to walk with me whichever path I chose. My prayer in that situation would be, that I would take the “right” pill, whatever that would mean for my life going forward.

After all, comfort zones have their place, but not for an advancing army.

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