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Red Pill Politics vs. Blue Pill Politics

In all seriousness, I do not, for one minute, believe that we live in a "Matrix" like the premise in the movie "The Matrix". Nevertheless, the controlled virtual reality of the Matrix does remind me of the world painted by the mass media on a daily basis, and so lamely accepted by so many of our citizenry. So, isn't it curious that the movie plot features a choice between taking a "red pill" that will open one to perceiving reality as it is vs. a "blue pill" that will simply return one to the make-believe reality of the Matrix? I ask that question because the Republican Party (represented by the color red when referring to Republican dominated states) and the Democrat Party (represented by the color blue) bear a curious resemblance to the two worlds of the Matrix, reality and fantasy.

If we continue this analogy, we might ask the question, what takes the place of the red pill and what takes the place of the blue pill? I propose the following:

  • The red pill represents humility before God, acknowledging one's tendency to sin and the reality, as St. Paul depicted it in his letter to the Romans, chapter 8, verse 20, that "creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it..." Those who swallow the red pill (in this sense) acknowledge that, while God calls us to work on behalf of the needy and the common good, the tower-of-Babel reaching up to heaven (re: Genesis 11:1-9), a symbol for various kinds of political and social pipe-dreams, is always inherently doomed to collapse.
  • The blue pill, by contrast, represents limitless secular hubris, blinding its consumer to the futility of utopian schemes of any and every kind. That would be bad enough, yet the blindness continues in the face of the dismal failure of such schemes, and the consumer compensates, in order to protect the fantasy and the hubris-laden self-image, through raging condemnation of scapegoats. The raging of those who are the major patrons of these unworkable schemes, as well as their enforcers, inevitably revert to attempts to "purge" those who are regarded as obstructionists.

Psychologically speaking, those in the first group tend to fall on the "perceiver" end of the Myers-Briggs J-P scale, while those in the second group tend to fall on the "judger" end of the scale. No wonder the second group experiences so much difficulty seeing the possibility of good in their opponents and a "basket of deplorable" epithets springs readily to their lips. Unfortunately, those who are on the receiving end of those epithets can sometimes experience crushing self-doubt or even trauma. As a result, when "blue pill" towering schemes collapse, the wake of the collapse can be very destructive to the social order.

In view of the foregoing, I find it deeply ironic that an entire generation of young people in many (thank goodness, not all!) communities has been raised to believe that everyone deserves a trophy for participating and, if at all possible, no one is ever subjected to the pain of losing. Such an approach to character formation at best delays the development of reality testing in decision making and at worst prevents that fundamental characteristic of good decision making from ever forming. No wonder, then, that our "millennial generation" is suffering trauma in the wake of the failure of expectations in the political arena. Worse, that same generation readily identifies with the reflexive response, in the form of scapegoating, of their teachers.

I have no doubt that continued exposure to harsh reality (inevitable in any case) will, eventually lead even those who have been dismissively described as "precious snowflakes" to come to grips with reality as it is, rather than as they might wish it to be. People who are emotionally flexible enough eventually learn humility. Those who are not eventually revert to a form of psychosis, some taking on violence as a defense, others adopting destructive forms of withdrawal, perhaps even suicide.

Let's pray that the psychologically vulnerable will find the inspiration to seek the path of humility and reality-testing. Let us pray, too, that the robust will recognize the value of humility and seek repentance for any destructive tendencies.

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