COLUMN: Reality demands public participation

It’s a scary place, but at least it’s truth and an authentic existence.

In the movie The Matrix, the lead character Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) is given a choice by a character named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) to take either a blue pill or a red pill.

A blue pill will cause Neo to “wake up in his bed and believe what he wants to believe,” escaping the Matrix and leading a life of blissful ignorance.

The red pill, however, will allow Neo to stay in the Matrix and Morpheus “will show him how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

In other words, embrace the sometimes painful truth of reality.

In the Matrix, reality is pretty harsh. Morpheus shows Neo a detailed simulation of Earth circa 1999, which keeps the citizens, whose bodies are stored in massive power plants, complacent in a mental prison, while their body heat and bioelectric energy is converted into power for the use of machines.

It’s a scary place, but at least it’s truth and an authentic existence.

Historically in Nanaimo, the blue pill has been a top seller with only a handful of residents choosing red, dutifully keeping abreast of the issues, voicing opinions for or against decisions, and knowing the consequences of those decisions.

In the meantime, the blue pill-consuming masses have happily been driving kids to soccer practice, paying their property taxes, hydro bills, and service fees without a second thought to why or how much, and remaining completely in the dark as to what decisions are made on their behalf.

As far as I can tell, no Nanaimo residents are being used for their bioelectric energy (the anti-smart meter crowd might disagree), but many people do wander through their schedules in blissful ignorance.

But that trend seems to be changing, both here and around the world.

With movements like Occupy Wall Street, massive and violent protests in the Middle East, economic chaos in Greece and other European countries and, closer to home, groups like Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo, it appears more and more people are swallowing the red pill and they don’t like the reality they’re waking up to.

So why the rude awakening? Because all levels of government and the people they represent have drifted apart and politicians are being elected into positions that force them to deal with problems they are not equipped to handle.

It is evident in Europe with the absence of any solution to the economic crisis, it is evident in the U.S. with the government unable to pull itself out of the debt crisis and it is evident in Nanaimo with citizens rising up against a process that will see low-barrier housing embedded into neighbourhoods.

People are angry, disillusioned and scared and they are lashing out, mostly toward politicians, who have been elected into office and expected to solve the problems they promised they would.

Voicing concern is not a bad thing. It’s a reaction to fear, sort of a self-preservation mechanism, a useful tool in today’s world.

What is a bad thing is the purposeful use of misinformation that dilutes the authenticity of any issue – a red pill laced with LSD if you like.

This misinformation spreads like wildfire through social media and is generally accepted as the truth, creating a groundswell of misguided people who think they’ve just consumed an authentic red pill.

It’s a threat to reality.

If you really want the true red pill experience, you have to dig deep into the rabbit hole yourself, join committees and be a part of the process.

Do your research, form your own opinions, vote and decide on the morals and issues you feel are right. You might not like what you find, but at least it’s real and you have an opportunity to make real change.

Because at the end of the day it comes down to living an authentic reality, no matter how tempting it might be to swallow the blue pill and pretend nothing is wrong.