“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.” -Morpheus (from the movie The Matrix)
Without going into any detail, there is a reason that my wife and I both have carry permits and are always carrying a firearm. Recently a newer addition to our extended family has suddenly started complaining about the circumstances and that she now feels the need to carry a firearm and is apprehensive and resentful of this fact, and has been very vocal about it. She just recently took licensing class, and is going through the process to get her license. (Regardless of circumstances, she likely would have done this anyways, but now somehow feels justified in complaining about it.) We have had several conversations and in one recent conversation she had complained that her whole world had changed because of this. I politely informed her that no, her world did not in fact change at all, she was just made more aware of what’s in it.
The world is an ugly place, and it is full of people that would have no qualms making someone else a victim; be it rape, assault, mugging, and even murder. We see it everyday on the news. Some instances hit a little closer to home than others. Home invasion robberies have become popular. Carjacking used to be the trendy new crime. Stepping out from behind the curtain of a false sense of security on your own is frightening at first. Having the curtain ripped open for you can be terrifying and overwhelming. When this person got mugged in an upscale mall several years ago, I would have thought that would be the catalyst for her to open her eyes to what the world is full of, and that taking responsibility for her own safety would have happened before she became part of the extended family. This was not the case.
“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” -Morpheus (from the movie The Matrix)
She doesn’t have the strength to face the reality of the world, yet. She will. It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. But once she finds the strength to realize that she is a part of the world as it is, she will be better for it. The only thing that my wife and I can do, is try to shepherd her through it.
Most people go through life thinking “it can’t happen to me,” until it actually does. And even when it does, they don’t believe that lightning can strike twice. After being mugged, they don’t change their behavior. This is behavior that made them a victim in the first place. Most people don’t understand that the world is not a safe place, and that it is full of assholes who would prey on the weak. They have never experienced it first hand, and would be content to continue living their life as though it can’t happen. While talking with my wife about this, I had to admit that I was one of those people when I was much younger. This kind of thing didn’t happen where I was. It was reserved for 3rd world shit-holes, like Somalia, or downtown Detroit. (There were only 3 places I would go in Detroit when I lived in Michigan; Cobo Hall, the Joe Louis Arena, and Greektown. And I wouldn’t go to any of them at night.) When I joined the Army, they trained me for what would come when I was able to see beyond the curtain.
I lived in Memphis briefly, and got a closer look at how bad the world could be, but it still didn’t apply to me. It wasn’t until I was faced with it on a personal level that I realized, and instead of complaining about how I wanted the world to be or thought it should be, I prepared myself for the world as it was.
The world is not a pretty place, but I am aware of this, and prepared for it. So is my wife. Once you do have this realization, one thing that you need to understand is that the world did not change. It is the same as it was before. It has the same people in it. The difference is in your perception of the world. You will realize that it is not full of rainbow farting unicorns, but is actually a violent, uncaring place. This does not mean that there is not beauty in the world. There is an abundance of it, if you know where to look. But the danger is always there, whether you are aware of it or not.
“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?” -Cypher (from the movie The Matrix)
The downside to this, is that once you see the world as it is, you can’t un-see it. There is no going back to the way it was before. This is probably why so many people are happy to pretend that the world is not the way it is. They actually do know what is behind the curtain, but figure as long as they don’t see it, it doesn’t apply to them. They live in denial, and will lash out at anyone, or anything that tries to wrest them from their naive and oblivious paradise, like this newer family member has done.
Even though the world is an ugly place, I will not hide from it. I will not shy away from it. And I will not be afraid of it, like so many people are.