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The temptation of the blue pill

Morpheus: Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. … Do you know what I’m talking about?

Morpheus: This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill — the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill — you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.


A few years back, Mike Wasdin wailed on Strike-the-Root that he’d had it. He was going to take the blue pill, enjoy his GMO factory-farmed steak, and forget this whole freedom business.

As I recall, that didn’t last too long, and Wasdin is still around. But I’ve never forgotten his cry of futility.

I grok the temptations of the blue pill. Don’t we all?

I like to think that if you take the blue pill you still have some future chance to take the red. But once you’ve swallowed the red one, that’s it. Done. Your reality is forever … well, real. You can’t go back.


Cypher: I know what you’re thinking, ’cause right now I’m thinking the same thing. Actually, I’ve been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn’t I take the BLUE pill?


Wasdin was frustrated because he perceived other people weren’t receptive to freedom.

That doesn’t bother me much any more. Once in a while. Not often. Anyhow, I think that’s turning around, big time.

I still feel the blue pill’s pull. Not because of other people but because of me.

Because of the pain of seeing some horror “my” government has inflicted and feeling both a desperate desire to do something about it and guilt that it was perpetrated in my name even though I oppose it with all my heart.

Because of the angry shock of being smacked with the details of some injustice I already knew about and thought I was inured to. (I wrote an article for S.W.A.T. last year about the very sting whose grossness that link covers, but their version of the story roused me to disgust, sorrow, and embarrassment for “my” country all over again.)

I wonder what it would be like not to know. Or to know but think, “Well, that sounds terrible. But I don’t have to worry about it because the people in charge surely know what they’re doing. They’ll take care of it.”


Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.


You can’t unswallow the red pill. You can’t ever take the blue one now. So you adapt. And amidst the chaos and grief you find places of exhilaration, satisfaction, pride, friendship, and joy.

We’ve talked about it before; we’ll talk about it again. It’s so much a part of what living freedom is about.

And still, through everything — wouldn’t you rather look into the abyss and know you were looking at reality than look at a world full of baby dolls, teddy bears, and benevolent rulers and suspect, down deep, that you were deliberately embracing an illusion?

An illusion that’s about as honest and as useful as makeup applied to a rotting corpse?


Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?

Morpheus: You’ve never used them before.


(I think it’s time to watch The Matrix again.)


Neo: I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone, and then I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.


  1. water lily
    water lily May 30, 2012 3:46 am

    Great post! I sometimes think about how ignorance might have been bliss – for a moment or two. I’d much rather know the truth than believe a lie, although it’s painful sometimes. We’ve lost friends and alienated family. I spend a lot of time reading, some of it downright depressing. Sometimes my cynical attitude even gets on my own nerves.

    Yeah, there are moments that I’d like to be blissfully ignorant. The red pill may be a burden, but there’s no going back.

  2. Teresa Sue
    Teresa Sue May 30, 2012 6:06 am

    Sometimes I get so very weary with it all because it seems like nothing changes, except for the worst. At the low times I wish I would have taken the blue pill instead of the red.

  3. David Hammond
    David Hammond May 30, 2012 7:04 am

    The Swat article? Was that the one where you asked the readers
    you asked the readers a question, that they were to send in?
    Extrat points were awarded if the Bill of Rights was part of the answer.

    Did you ever post any of the answers?

  4. Ragnar
    Ragnar May 30, 2012 7:15 am

    The blue pill can be a good thing… ask my girlfriend.

  5. Pat
    Pat May 30, 2012 7:21 am

    As Thomas Sowell has said, “Reality is not optional.” Whether we swallow the red or blue pill, the consequences of reality WILL occur, and affect us all. It’s better to know what to expect and prepare for it, than flounder at the mercy of fear, ignorance, or evil.

  6. Joel
    Joel May 30, 2012 7:49 am

    Wasdin was frustrated because he perceived other people weren’t receptive to freedom.

    That’s got to be the greatest curse of the activist. Ghosts, like cats, have it easier because they don’t give much of a damn what other people do. My wish is for billions of people, all trying to find freedom in their own lives and not trying to impose it or anything else on anybody else. I can live without that, which is good because I’m not likely to ever see it.

  7. Claire
    Claire May 30, 2012 8:01 am

    David Hammond — Good memory, but no, it wasn’t that article. The article you’re thinking of drew only three answers and basically most of their points agreed with me. There wasn’t enough there to create a new column.

  8. Richard
    Richard May 30, 2012 10:18 am

    I wonder at times if things just appear to be getting worse because I perceive more each day since waking up (taking the red pill by refusing to live numb) or if it really is getting extremely bad and we are at the end days of one empire and the beginning of out in the own Statism.

  9. Ellendra
    Ellendra May 30, 2012 10:32 am

    When I was a kid, I tried sometimes to be normal. It never worked. It’s like wearing shoes on the wrong feet and 3 sizes too small, it just doesn’t fit. Eventually I learned to give up on that, but it took a while. I had to grow up first.

    I don’t remember ever getting to make a consious choice between the blue pill or the red pill. I don’t feel like I took either. A lot of people in the “freedom community” don’t make any more sense than the politicians do. Most of them expect people to “stand against tyranny” THEIR way, and on their schedule, and will be quick to flame anyone who sounds like they might disagree, even if the disagreement is only in their imagination. Others seem to think that if they like a person’s ideas, that they must follow that person lockstep. There was even that one here a while ago who expected Claire to lead the Occupy movement for the whole nation, if not the whole world.
    Some see conspiracies that don’t even make sense. Some claim beleifs that contradict their own actions. Some have such extreme martyrdom illusions that they sound like they’re off their medications.
    All claim they’re the ones who took the red pill.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I have to wonder why people need a “pill” to start with?

    Maybe the red vs. blue is a human choice, and I’ll always be an elf, lol :p

  10. Mic
    Mic May 30, 2012 11:09 am

    Lately things have become so bad I am almost thinking I just need to carry the blue pill in my pocket for easy access. However I know it is somewhat pointless as there is no way to go back. There aren’t any Mr. Smith’s willing to put me back in the Matrix and to forget everything. I am in this world for better or worse until the end.

  11. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty May 30, 2012 11:33 am

    Indeed. I’m actually talking less and less to other “freedom people” because so many of them become angry when I stick to the principles of self ownership, self responsibility, non aggression and integrity. I’m told that most people don’t “want” liberty and won’t stand to hear all that, so we need to start back with the “constitution” and get that set up “right,” and “elect the right people” so we can then “nudge” the folks into more liberty as…. Oh hell, there is no real conviction of that ever happening in most of them either, but they are not willing to be starkly honest and admit that “MOST people” never will accept individual liberty and self responsibility.

    I don’t see any need to wait around for “most people” – or anybody – in any case. I will continue to live as free as possible here and now, with every shred of integrity I can muster. I’m going to tell the truth, and often it’s not going to be gentle or “nice,” especially with people who see no problem with a little bit of dishonesty and theft.

    But then… I’ve been known as a difficult person for a very long time. Don’t want any blue pill, and don’t need a red one. I was born this way.

  12. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal May 30, 2012 11:46 am

    Sometimes I just get so freaking tired! I watch my family members enjoying the fruits of going along with (and profiting from) The State and I wonder if “The Red Pill” was worth it. Because, as you say, you can NEVER untake it. The Blue Pill is temporary, but the Red Pill is permanent. Why is that?

    But, then, I notice that sometimes my family members get a glimpse behind the Matrix and then they come to me for an explanation. So far they are able to put it out of their minds pretty soon, but I wonder how long that will last. I know they desperately don’t want their delusion to end, and will do just about anything to keep believing.

    And, then, sometimes when I am so burned out and exhausted I think I’ll need to take a month or two off, I get an email or read a comment from someone that totally makes it all worthwhile. I realize I have made a difference and feel re-energized.

  13. UnReconstructed
    UnReconstructed May 30, 2012 11:55 am

    Funny, I had been thinking lately that it was high time that I rewatched the Matrix.

    But it all boils down to that single little exchange with Neo and Morpheus

    “The Matrix is everywhere…”

  14. 1894C
    1894C May 30, 2012 4:05 pm

    On Down The Road
    By Grantland Rice

    Hold to the course, though the storms are about you;
    Stick to the road where the banner still flies;
    Fate and his legions are ready to rout you–
    Give ’em both barrels–and aim for their eyes.
    Life’s not a rose bed, a dream or a bubble,
    A living in clover beneath cloudless skies;
    And Fate hates a fighter who’s looking for trouble,
    So give ‘im both barrels–and shoot for the eyes.
    Fame never comes to the loafers and sitters,
    Life’s full of knots in a shifting disguise;
    Fate only picks on the cowards and quitters,
    So give ’em both barrels–and aim for the eyes.

  15. 1894C
    1894C May 30, 2012 4:10 pm

    By Robert William Service

    If you’re up against a bruiser and you’re getting knocked about —

    If you’re feeling pretty groggy, and you’re licked beyond a doubt —

    Don’t let him see you’re funking, let him know with every clout,
    Though your face is battered to a pulp, your blooming heart is stout;
    Just stand upon your pins until the beggar knocks you out —
    And grin.

    This life’s a bally battle, and the same advice holds true
    Of grin.

    If you’re up against it badly, then it’s only one on you,
    So grin.

    If the future’s black as thunder, don’t let people see you’re blue;
    Just cultivate a cast-iron smile of joy the whole day through;
    If they call you “Little Sunshine”, wish that THEY’D no troubles, too —
    You may — grin.

    Rise up in the morning with the will that, smooth or rough,
    You’ll grin.

    Sink to sleep at midnight, and although you’re feeling tough,
    Yet grin.

    There’s nothing gained by whining, and you’re not that kind of stuff;
    You’re a fighter from away back, and you WON’T take a rebuff;
    Your trouble is that you don’t know when you have had enough —

    Don’t give in.

    If Fate should down you, just get up and take another cuff;
    You may bank on it that there is no philosophy like bluff,

    And grin.

  16. 1894C
    1894C May 30, 2012 4:13 pm


    From “New Moon” 1928
    (Sigmund Romberg / Frank Mandel /
    Laurence Schwab / Oscar Hammerstein II)

    You who have dreams, if you act they will come true.
    To turn your dreams to a fact, it’s up to you.
    If you have the soul and the spirit,
    Never fear it, you’ll see it thru,
    Hearts can inspire, other hearts with their fire,
    For the strong obey when a strong man shows them the way.

    Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
    Who will fight, for the right they adore,
    Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
    And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.
    Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,
    They grow as they go to the fore.
    Then there’s nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
    When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.

    Give me some men who are stout-hearted men,
    Who will fight, for the right they adore,
    Start me with ten who are stout-hearted men,
    And I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.
    Shoulder to shoulder and bolder and bolder,
    They grow as they go to the fore.
    Then there’s nothing in the world can halt or mar a plan,
    When stout-hearted men can stick together man to man.

  17. Carl-Bear
    Carl-Bear May 30, 2012 9:27 pm

    Blue pill, red pill. I decided to just eat the popcorn and enjoy the show.

  18. Stevearl
    Stevearl May 31, 2012 4:47 am

    Sometimes I feel so tired. Not from work or worry; not from preparing or studying; but from trying to reach out to my family and friends to get them to see what is going on around them. Heck, I would be happy if they would just have an intelligent conversation about the economy or the encroaches of government, or even just for them to have a week supply of food in the pantry. All I hear is hop the government wouldn’t do that or allow that to happen. Geez.

  19. Pat
    Pat May 31, 2012 6:04 am

    “We have to believe, precisely as David Bohm did, that at some point in the future, sophisticated techniques will be developed which will allow his own ideas and even others, to be tested and proved correct.”

    Until they *are* proven correct, they are only ideas. And ideas are as limitless as the human mind can conjure up.

    While many theories are running around loose, the only reality that exists for each of us is what we encounter on a daily basis ― what we see, hear, smell, touch, even what we think and “believe” based on experience taken from our material world. That’s not the same as living in “a holographic universe.”

    A holograph is nothing in itself; it reflects an image projected from an already-established reality. I think many scientists studying the universe are simply overwhelmed by the enormity of it, and have no other way to express its vastness.

    A holographic image projecting government’s viewpoint is also the technique used by the powers that be to convince us we’re mere pawns in their blue-pill world.

  20. Sean
    Sean May 31, 2012 6:19 am

    Kent, although we have argued quite a bit, and dissagreed a lot, you may never know how much you have caused me to grow, and to think, and to expand, both in knowledge, and understanding. Don’t stop doing what you do, and remember, you are truly one who is master of his fate, and captain of his soul. Salud!

  21. Don
    Don May 31, 2012 7:02 am

    OK, how do you do it? How do you take a blue pill? I’d like to know, maybe experiment with taking one, to see what it’s like.

    As far as I can tell I have been under the spell of the red pill since birth, or at least since I was able to know right from wrong, certainly by the time I was in kindergarten.

    I see these blue pill people all the time and wonder what is wrong with them and how did they get that way and why would they prefer to stay that way. Do they have no choice? Is there something wrong in their brain that causes them to take the low road paved with all of the worst things in humanity? Are they really mentally handicapped?

    I’m serious about this. I have been studying these people for a very long time but I cannot approach them directly for to do so causes them to flame up and get violent and we all know that violence can only be handled in one way, extreme over-violence, and we all know the consequences of such a thing in this warped world we find ourselves in.

    It’s quite the conundrum.

  22. Pat
    Pat May 31, 2012 8:56 am

    Don – Many people are never taught how to think for themselves, or even to think at all, (in fact, are often browbeaten by parents to NOT think, to not question anything) so – without the curiosity or guts to ask “Why?” or “How do you know?” – they grow up adhering to the Conventional Wisdom which is the lifeblood of a “society”. It’s easier and safer than making waves.

    Most people just want to be left alone. Whereas “troublemaker-outlaws” are willing to fight for that right, the rest of the population gives in. By the time they’ve learned to think enough to function on their own as an adult – through education and/or experience – they’re hooked into the system. If you challenge them, they truly fear the alternative mindset that questions all they’ve been taught.

  23. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal May 31, 2012 10:29 am

    Sean- Thanks for telling me. I hold no grudges over the spirited disagreements. Anything that keeps me thinking is a good thing.

    Pat (and Don)- Ironically, even though I was never “quite right” and rather independent, the person who did more to make me think things through in a critical manner, and then deal in a rational way with wherever that led, was a teacher I had in a “public” high school. He taught me how to think critically, and how to see the tricks that others would use to try to make us fall for their lies. More than anyone else he is responsible for teaching me how to think, not what to think. He opened Pandora’s Box.

  24. water lily
    water lily May 31, 2012 4:30 pm

    My mother was a red pill person. The rest of my family are blue pill people. Why?

    TELEVISION has a lot to do with it. They are all TV addicts, especially FOX.

    I really miss intelligent conversation IRL. But the convo between myself and former friends and family quickly generally degenerates into “Why aren’t you a Republican?” Or, “We’ve got to get rid of Muslims,” “Obama is the problem,” etc.

    Even the so-called freedom movement can get really annoying, as everyone wants freedom, as long as it’s their flavor of freedom.

  25. Ellendra
    Ellendra May 31, 2012 9:18 pm

    @Clark: I didn’t realize we were all you. I certainly didn’t feel like I was you at any point today.

  26. clark
    clark June 2, 2012 6:09 pm

    The “you” is anyone contemplating the ideas in this thread and applying them to the world today, Ellendra.
    For cryin out loud, you claim to be an elf, yeesh.

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