The Red Pill

Most of us have seen the 1999 film, The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves as Neo. In the movie’s most critical scene, Neo faces a difficult choice between taking the red pill or the blue pill. I think we all face the same decision in our daily lives. We just don’t realize it. In Neo’s world, life is good, safe, predictable and convenient. Sound familiar? But the world he lives in that he believes is real is actually a fabrication and doesn’t exist.
The blue pill allows him to the opportunity to go on and live his life in this artificial or contrived reality. The red pill will offer him the chance to see things as they actually are. Once he takes the red pill, there is no going back. He will have to face the truth no matter how unpleasant or unpredictable. It will require him to think for himself and be accountable for his actions. So Neo rejects the status quo and takes the red pill.

The Matrix started me thinking. What would we do if we were faced with the same decision? Is the world we live in and the life we live real? Or has it been created by an outside force? Most of us will never get a choice this black and white. But it is an intriguing question. Would we take the red pill if it offered us real answers? If we could understand the decisions we make and why we make them; what we believe and why we believe it; and what it is really based on, would we take the red pill?

If you’ve read my blog, you probably realize that the world we accept as normal, I believe is manipulated and controlled by today’s mass media culture. In other words, the world you and I live in is a reflection of today’s media and the reality it has created. I’m convinced most of us probably wouldn’t take the red pill because, frankly, the truth is just too scary. And I think the majority of us think we already know and understand the world we live in so there’s no need to take the red pill. However, that’s not the case. The media has done a snow job on us. The media has been successful in helping to distract and insulate us from the realities of life and the things that are truly important. Our mass media culture reflects this. It has created it’s own matrix, and we have bought into it. I would go as far to say that the media culture has rewired our brains and the way we think.

The lives you and I live today take place in the marketplace. Everything is now a form of buying and selling. Life itself has been commercialized. How we make money seems to always be our first priority. Our existence seems to be driven by a never ending appetite of consumerism. More is better. We must have everything and have it now seems to be the message that today’s media is communicating. Even the American Dream has been hijacked and perverted by this form of consumerism. Our lives are also defined by advertising, marketing and branding. We become the products that we use or consume. We are told that the next purchase will make us the person we have always wanted to become.

The ultimate goal of life itself is to achieve celebrity, to become important and successful no matter what the cost. Does any of this sound familiar? Are we on a treadmill with no hope of ever getting off? Perhaps the red pill can offer us hope to escape this false reality. Today’s mass media culture has placed you and I at the center of our own world. Everything revolves around our wants and needs. It has helped to reinforce our own self-importance along with instant gratification of wealth, power and prestige. Would you agree that this is in direct contrast to the basic, simple teachings of Christ? As difficult as this may be to accept, we have all bought in some degree into the mass media culture. That includes people of faith.

Breaking out of this stranglehold will be no easy endeavor. Who doesn’t want a lifestyle or even a Christian faith that is safe, convenient, comfortable and puts us in control? However, that is not what the Word of God has called us to nor is it the reality of the Christian faith. Symbolically, we can continue to take the blue pill, but this leads us away from what God intends for us.

So if you decide to take the red pill. And start down this road, and begin to think for yourself and to question everything, there is no turning back. Nothing will ever be the same again. The Bible says the truth will set you free. But do you want to know the truth, and do you really want to be free. I guarantee you, there will be a price to pay for this freedom.

Obviously, there’s no physical red pill that exists that you can take that will allow you to see the world as it really is. I wish it was that simple. But it’s more of a process that requires time and energy and a commitment to pursue the truth. A good place to start is to continue to read Media Missionary’s School blog and website. We offer a ton of resources and articles that can help you on your journey. I’ve also written book that I’ve re-titled “The Red Pill, A Cure for Today’s Mass Media Culture”. It can offer you insight and perspective into the strategies and techniques of today’s modern media age. But this is only a start. None of theses resources are intended to tell you what to think but only to serve as a guide to help you to take control of your life and the decisions you make.

I believe taking the red pill is a five step process.

Step 1 starts with awareness. We are all too busy rushing around thinking about the future and doing what someone else tells us we are supposed to do. You have to take time to slow down and live in the moment. It’s important to be aware of our environment and the world around us. That requires us to pay attention to the moment. Our lives are a journey. But often we are only interested in the destination. What we fail to understand is that our life is a process, and what happens along the way or the journey will define who we are as a person.

Step 2 requires us to question everything. We can no longer accept things on face value. Just because we see it in the news or hear it in the media does not make it true. Taking the red pill means we must ask questions and press for answers. And that means questioning all of our institutions, for example, government, schools and the Church. Most often we just assume the world is supposed to be a certain way or this is the way society tells us to live our lives. But why do we accept it as normal?

Step 3 is to learn the language of media. If we don’t understand the strategies and techniques that media employ to hold our attention and distract us, we will always be subject to its control. The only way to truly be free is to become media literate. By doing so, we will understand the multiple, layered media images that are being communicated through today’s mass media culture.

Step 4 requires us to readjust and examine what we think to be true and know why we believe it to be true. By following steps 1 – 3, we reach a place where we have to readjust our lives. It will require some difficult decisions. We must examine what we believe, where that belief came from and why we believe it. More than likely, this will affect the decisions we make and where we spend our time and our money.

Step 5 is where we decide from this point forward that “I will no longer be told what to think, but I will now think for myself”. This might not make you the most popular person. Taking the red pill’s ultimate destination is freedom. And freedom carries responsibility. You have to take the responsibility to stand up for the truth and, most often, reject the status quo. You must be willing to pay the price for freedom. It will be worth it in the long run.