Red Pills, Lies, and Regrets
― Friedrich Nietzsche
“I have no regrets.”
How many times have any of us heard that brief, almost cliché phrase?
Well, if you're like most people, it's probably been a lot. An awful lot. And the older one gets the more one hears it from friends and colleagues. It's as predictable and on-time an occurrence as the sunrise at Solstice.
Well, guess what? It’s not true. It's never been true. The more years one has behind them the more errors one has made. Mistakes, misdeeds, and downright blunders are a human reality. And each and every one of them leads to regrets; the deep-seated desire to do things over or to not have done certain things at all.
Most of us know the feeling. It’s a down-into-the-gut wanting to erase an error that one knows should never have been allowed to occur. A blot on one’s personal history where there’s a never-ending longing to have a painful reality eased and expunged.
But we all know such a thing is not possible. There are no do-overs in life. No take-backs. When something is done; a decision is made; a path is taken, reversing that choice is almost always impossible. And the longer one lives the more one has collected a keychain full of such feelings. A set of nasty memories one wears around the neck of their soul that gets heavier and heavier as the years pass. An inescapable burden of the kind Marley showed Scrooge on a mythical Christmas Eve.
Yet it’s part of what makes us all human. To quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “There is no effort without error and shortcoming.” We learn from our mistakes. All of us. And our regrets are a reminder of the price we've paid for so many lessons.
But some regrets are worse than others. This is especially true if they affect other people. One's family, friends, community, or nation. It's one thing if one wishes they had taken a vacation to an exotic place when they had the chance or that they had asked a certain woman out on a date many decades earlier. But it's quite another if a regret is tied to an action or inaction that may have affected people into the far future, and generations yet unborn.
The term “red pilled” has recently entered the American lexicon. For those few who are unfamiliar with the term, it means to come to realize something that can never, ever be forgotten or erased from the mind. Usually, this pertains to political and social realities one has believed for many years to be true but turned out to be total lies. And when such truths hit, they’re often devastating.
A truth that one cannot escape or run and hide from is the worst kind. It’s an in-your-face-staring horror combined with the feeling of helplessness at being unable to change any of it.
Red pills come in many sizes and with varying levels of intensity. Some will merely surprise you, while others will drive you mad. And a few may even make you wish you were never born.
In the movie The Matrix, where the term “red pill” first entered contemporary culture, it was mentioned that getting people to see the horrifying truth of reality gets more difficult with age. “The mind has a hard time letting go,” Morpheus told Neo after he had chosen the red pill over the blue and awakened to a dystopian nightmare. The hero had to disregard a lifetime of mental investment into a given way of thinking and understanding, and it was not an easy process. When much of what someone has believed all their life is demonstrated to be irrefutably untrue, much is lost. A gaping hole can be left in the center of one's being. And in many, the very reason to exist vanishes as quickly as sunlight upon a morning mist.
Most people would rather never go there if they had a choice, and for good reason. Getting red pilled about some things late in life has the potential of becoming a living hell. A nightmare that can never be woken up from. Regrets that enter the soul like a cold, sharp blade that can ever be withdrawn from the flesh.
This phenomenon is becoming more and more commonplace. And much of the reason is the spread and usage of social media. The amount of information the average human can now access from the palm of their hand was unimaginable not that many years ago. This has led to an unnaturally high rate of data input into the human brain — far higher than Mother Nature ever intended. There is no longer much time to contemplate and digest information. It’s much like trying to get a sip of water from a fire hose; you get a drink but will end up with more than you really wanted, and a soaking wet set of clothes for your trouble. Realities that used to take months, years, or even decades to exchange for new ones now happen much quicker. A lurching of consciousness and a mental shifting of gears that can send some people psychologically careening into a wall or falling over a cliff.
This is why, traditionally, knowledge was always a conscious choice. The mystics of old would only initiate into their ranks those who, quite literally, showed up at their doorstep and requested entry. Respect was always given to those who wanted to remain ignorant of certain truths and realities, and nobody was initiated into a level of knowledge unless they were thought to be ready for it. The idiom “ignorance is bliss” has much truth to it. People have a right to know, but people have an equally important right not to know.
The most difficult time to go through the red pilling process is when one is entering or in the midst of middle age. These days, many red pills contain dosages of political and social realities combined with the cold, hard truths about how our nation, and Western Civilization, has changed in recent decades. What makes this knowledge all the more difficult to swallow for those in that age bracket is the fact that most life decisions are made based on environment and information provided from external sources at a given point in time. Regrets hit hard when one realizes that lies and deceit were the foundation on which lives were lived or, tragically, never lived. The middle age years are when there is still a fair amount of life ahead, but there are many more years in the past. Not the best time for second-guessing. And, like Neo and his comrades learned, once you’ve been unplugged from the Matrix; you can’t go back.
And so it goes. One unpleasant realization stacks upon another. A hill and sometimes a mountain of harsh reality is heaped upon the mere mortal. So instead of facing the horrible truth, many continue to believe the comfortable lie. No matter how preposterous or obviously wrong, previous beliefs will almost never be abandoned. And if the truth is too painful, the lie is defended to the death.
This is probably a major reason why so much insanity seems to be infecting so many people these days. Those who seem to be educated, reasonable, and logical are refusing to come around to some very disturbing but obvious truths. The more they’re presented with facts the more they dig their heels into the lies. This is not because they’re stupid or “beyond help,” it’s because there are limits to human mental strength. Many can’t handle the truth and, at the subconscious level, they know it. They’re engaged in a form of psychic self-defense and are fighting for their minds, if not their very lives.
When this happens, things can get dangerous. As Morpheus told Neo, “The body cannot live without the mind.” And such threats to one’s sense of reality can be just as deadly as anything physical. This is why you'll find people who are hanging on to old ideas all the more defensive — up to and including being violent — when confronted with new information that poses a devastating challenge to their long-held belief system. And such violence can easily be turned in the direction of self-destruction.
This violent denial also crosses over into politics and, by extension, economics. The armies of burned-out old leftists, socialists, Marxists, pseudo-communists and the like still show up at rallies and protests decades after their ideology has been demonstrated to be nothing more than a bankrupt reformulation for human mystery. Most of these people can’t be reasoned with, nor is it even possible in most cases. For someone to throw away a life-long belief and conviction that something is “the truth,” is not easily accomplished. It requires a level of bravery and strength rare in the human condition. An act akin to Frodo tossing the Ring of Power into the fires of Mount Doom. It seldom happens in real life. And the result of such a mindset incapable of accepting a new reality only leads to one place: Fanaticism.
It’s often been said that when someone is faced with certain death, their true nature comes to the surface. What really makes them tick is then open and naked for all the world to see. The same goes for human groupings. From a small family or tribe up to a nation or empire. We see their true nature emerge as they die. A shadow is cast upon the wall of existence as their candle burns at great intensity just before it’s extinguished forever. The same principle of death also applies to ideas, thoughts, and philosophies.
So is it any wonder why we’re seeing what we’re seeing on American streets and in the hallways of power? Should it be a surprise that so many Americans have gone from being the peaceful grasshoppers to the destructive locusts? Those who share their beliefs will soon be no more, and nothing likes to die. A wild animal will always bite at its own wounds as it instinctively realizes it will soon cease to exist.
Seeking to change peoples’ minds, getting them to “come around,” or “see the light,” is not going to happen most of the time. At least not on a large scale. And especially not in the times we’re currently living in. No matter how much one would like to bring a friend or relative out of the darkness and into the light, it seldom happens that way. As is the case with chronic alcoholics; you can do nothing for them unless they want to do something for themselves.
There’s another reason not to force the red pill down the throats of those who don’t want it. And that is, quite simply, the individual’s inalienable right to remain in ignorance and to be shielded from the suffering the truth would bring them. If one believes in freedom of thought — truly believes in it — one believes in it for everybody.
Remember that for every Frodo with strength thousands of Gollums are lurking in the shadows wallowing in fear and cowardice. Just leave them alone. Let them be. For they may yet have a role to play. And those who are able to face the harsh realities of our times have better things to do, and more important battles to prepare to fight.
© 2020 Thomas Michael Caldwell. All Rights Reserved. This written work is not to be copied or reproduced without the permission of the author. Links to this page from other websites or social media accounts is permitted and encouraged.