The sound of the car door closing should have woken them. In any case, he was too excited to care. Up the stairs he went. Listening first for what he hoped to never hear, he finally knocked on their door.
“What?” his mother asked.
“I’m home.” he replied opening the door.
“Good…” she acknowledged.
“‘THE MATRIX’ IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER!!!” he burst.
“That’s great. Tell me about it in the morning.”
“No, you don’t understand, I have to go see it again. You have to see it. Dad, what are you doing tomorrow night? I mean, I could feel my jeans shaking from the bass it was so loud.”
That was me. April 1999.
In the fall of 1999 I learned that the ancient Greek’s had mused that we could all really just be brains in jars being stimulated to believe life as we know it is happening. Wow. I cannot tell you how powerful that one fact was. That begged the question, “What else did people thousands of years ago think about that is being presented as new today?”
Around the same time, this knowledge became slightly depressing. If “The Matrix” was actually thousands of years old, what hope did we have for ever thinking something new?
A decade later, I stumbled upon Heidegger. Intense. Taken together, Heidegger and a plagiarized Matrix have revealed how wrong the famous “to remain ignorant of history is to remain forever a child” saying is.
Love history, study history, worship history; just don’t believe that you’re somehow better for it. More and more it is becoming clear to me that “life” is perfectly synonymous with “now.” Simply acknowledging this gives me all the hope I need. Anxiety disappears.
For the doubtful reader, the best argument I can muster is the following personal story.
I attended college from 1999-2003. I am back in college for kicks right now. If you’ll allow my other writings to qualify me to make an observation, it seems US universities are really only interested in one thing: “How to Prevent the Holocaust.” The Stanford Prison Experiment. The Milgram Experiment. Professors and students alike stand in awe of their revelations. Somehow they miss the elephant in the room. They miss that humans are totally capable of taking part in another holocaust. This direct attempt to prevent the holocaust will not work. To accomplish the goal, universities would be better served if they backed up a step and challenged students to accept responsibility for the present. As I’ve written before, this idea of building a [fill in the blank] future is fundamentally flawed.
The only way I see to prevent another holocaust is to live for right now. I’m not talking about “immediate gratification.” I’m talking about an idea I first heard from Peter Drucker. In his book “Management,” he discusses that the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t apply only to the medical field. In his book, he makes the case that managers in any business have to live by it as well. I’d go a step further and say everyone should use it as a guide. Drucker paraphrases the oath down to, “Do no knowing harm.” Implied is you can’t “do” the future. You can only “do” the present.
By way of example, while deployed I hung on my wall some of the Samurai’s Bushido-type sayings. One was, “Courage is living when it is right to live, and dying when it is right to die.” I can tell you I have put a lot of though into it, and if the situation presents the “my life or me taking another’s life” dichotomy, I’m choosing the bullet. The German people chose poorly. They seem to have thought, “Even though this is wrong, if I do it now, at least I’ll make it to the future.” Wrong. No way am I making the same choice. Only someone avoiding “the now” could murder on command. Personal story turned rant over.
To recap, (“The Matrix” + Ancient Greek Philosophy + Martin Heidegger – Cicero + (Two x College) + Peter Drucker + Bushido) x Me^Infinity = Philosophy or interpreting existence is fascinating to me. What’s your story?