This is the first blog in my first ever series: Blue Pill Red Pill. If you haven’t seen The Matrix, the metaphor might be completely lost on you. So if you need a frame, you can read here or simply use this:
No matter how hard we try, we can never truly unknow something.
From the moment of knowing, we have two choices: 1) do something with what we know; or 2) completely ignore it and keep doing whatever we want. Metaphorically speaking, I have chosen the red pill. That said: Here goes.
When Donald Trump entered the 2016 GOP Presidential Fracas, like Jon Stewart, (though with not nearly as much insightful hilarity) I thought: YAY! This will keep nighttime TV interesting and keep me from devolving into despair over the somewhat more approachable (though equally anathema) rhetoric of the other candidates. I comforted myself with the thought that there is no way a guy like him could ever get elected. I happily joined others in what I consider a more appropriate response – laughter-producing snark and creatively constructed hashtaggery.
Like so many, my media world is inundated with Trump-inspired newsy bits, Facebook posts, Tweets, and memes (both snarky and serious). And in the way that the image from a Polaroid Land Camera slowly but inexorably emerges, a picture of the painful reality that Donald Trump represents has begun to form. And it has made me almost immediately a little more sad and lot more worried.
I’d like to think it’s easy to write a guy like The Donald off as a strutting and fretting player, enjoying his hour (albeit a rather long hour) on the stage. His idiotic tales full of the sound and fury seem to have little or no significance to my life. I had thought that with the use of well-chosen media, I could deflect his supercilious swagger and get on with my life.
And then the effects of the damn red pill kicked in. And as much as I want to shrug and say: Dumb people say dumb things all the time. I find that, in my post-red pill life, I cannot. Instead, I find myself wondering about the insidious, even congenital nature of the multiple and varied oppressions of white supremacy, of homophobia, of xenophobia, of colonial/empirical impulses we call capitalism. Though Trump may seem to represent the extreme case, it is pretty clear from the poll numbers that there is significantly more than a little interest in what he has to say (if not how he says it).
While I would love to point the mirror of self-examination away from me, the red pill requires me to examine whether there is any small part of what I would prefer to think of as Trump’s World in which I may be participating, or from which I have benefitted either by choice or by accident. As if it weren’t hard already, it gets worse. When I have come to know the truth and I remain silent, I have to ask myself whether I am in fact helping to create the fertile conditions which foster the growth of oppression.
I’d like to say no. But having chosen the red pill, I cannot unknow the truth of oppression. As a person whose faith requires justice and mercy with a clear preference for the weak, the poor and the outcast, I really am left with two choices: to ignore reality and move on in faux oblivion or do the hard work of creating a new reality.
God help me.