Morpheus: “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.” –The Matrix
Whether you are aware of it or not, many in the West are born, grow, and die a slave to the Matrix. The 1999 cult movie of the same name starring Keanu Reeves questions what is real and what is simulated reality. While purely a fictitious work by the Wachowskis brothers, the movie touches on themes which challenge the current model of society and points to the problem of indoctrination and a lack of awareness amongst the populace. In search of answers, the mild-mannered Neo, a computer programmer, meets Morpheus, who tries to explain the Matrix. On entering the room Morpheus asks Neo, “Do you want to know what it is?” He explains…
The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. 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. or 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. – The Matrix
Having tried to extract myself from the rat race and city living many years ago, I found myself experiencing my own version of the Matrix on a recent trip to Sydney (coincidentally where they filmed much of the movie). I decided to document some of the more obvious things that stood out to me after having been somewhat unplugged from the Matrix.
To clarify, I personally define the Matrix as a set of beliefs, cultural norms, attitudes, and conditioned states which are pervasive throughout society. These are initially created under an economic rationale which offer products and services to citizens. To promote these goods and services various themes, ideas, and ideologies are promoted to establish compliance and persuade individuals to partake in consumptive patterns. Along the way, this information becomes embedded within a society, creating cultural norms and distracting individuals and society from the truth. As individuals living in a society, we become subservient to authority and start conforming to certain illogical cultural constructs. Eventually, like a fish swimming in the ocean, we are unaware of the water that surrounds us, we become unaware of the Matrix…
Twenty indicators that signal you may be living in the Matrix & How To Unplug Yourself
1. You spend most of your time devoted to paying off a mortgage rather than enjoying life.
2. You can’t wait for the weekend to come.
3. You judge your success by the car you drive, the suburb you live in, and the size of the house you own.
4. The wealthy are rewarded for plundering the earth while those trying to save it are ridiculed.
5. You work in a job you don’t enjoy, thinking the money you earn will offset the misery of working in a job or career you are not passionate about.
6. You think that by a taking a pill your ills will be cured.
7. You think that someone focused on eating healthy, organic fresh foods is weird, while eating highly processed, nutrient devoid foods is normal.
8. You think buying stuff will make you happy.
9. You watch the news on television and think this is the truth.
10. You’re more focused on your favourite sports team than concerned about the natural world and environment on which you depend for survival.
11. You believe growth and the development of the economy is a good thing and that globalization creates jobs.
12. You conform with the status quo and never question why things are done.
13. You think traffic congestion, pollution, and sensory overload are part of normal everyday life.
14. You think there is a difference between political parties and that they will enact real change.
15. You think there are terrorists around every corner and they are a threat to you and your community, despite the fact that you have 150 times more chances of being hit by lightning than being involved in a terrorist attack.
16. You think eating genetically modified food and eating fruit and vegetables sprayed with pesticides is OK.
17. You think the mainstream media is independent and unbiased.
18. You think constant distraction through the media such as sport, trivial affairs, and celebrity gossip is news.
19. You think living next to a cell tower is cool because you get better reception.
20. You wait in line for the next release of the latest technological gadget
1. Eat Healthy Organic Foods
Consider incorporating more plant-based whole foods into your diet and eliminating processed packaged foods. Eating a healthy whole food diet facilitates the cleansing of the body of unwanted toxins, and can contribute to greater clarity of mind and increased physical and mental health, as well as reducing your chances of developing degenerative diseases later in life. Living with clarity is the first step to realizing your true potential and freeing yourself from the system. This also makes you less (or non) reliant on the industrialized food system, pharmaceutical grade drugs and the conventional medical system.
2. Downsize Your Life
As housing affordability deteriorates and economies continue to contract, more and more people are seeking alternative ways of living. With most Western nations spending one-third to more than half of their income on housing (mortgage repayments), living small offers greater freedom to the alternative of being tied to a mortgage for decades. There are many options for simple living today with choices including a combination of micro-apartments, tiny houses, yurts, container homes, shipping containers, and customised small homes, all offering affordable and sustainable housing. Prefabricated tiny homes can cost the same price as a new car, ranging from $20,000 to $50,000. If you want to build your own tiny home this can be even more cost effective. See: Living Big in A Tiny House
3. Get In Touch With Nature
Over recent years, urbanization has increased, to the point where more people live in high density urban environments than at any time in history. This has alienated many from the natural world. Connection to the land and natural environment has been replaced by freeways, cities, and concrete landscapes, which bring little solace and opportunity for reflection for individuals. Inner peace and happiness can be hard to find in a world of constant diversion and distraction. M. Sanjayan, Ph.D., lead scientist for “The Nature Conservancy,” outlines how humans are integrally connected with nature: “For 5 million years, humans depended on nature for just about everything, including food, shelter, and the regulation of sleep cycles. It is only in the last fifty years people have become less connected to nature with much of the global population living in large urban centres.” Studies have shown that people need some connection with nature. Getting out of artificial environments helps with overall health and well-being, supporting a stronger immune system as well as stimulating creativity.
4. Become Involved With or Move to an Ecovillage
The ecovillage movement offers a model which requires a paradigm shift from the take, make, waste mentality pervasive throughout our Western culture and economy. The ecovillage movement aims to foster local production and longterm sustainability by maintaining economically and ecologically sustainable communities. The movement tries to integrate ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability in order to regenerate social and natural environments. Ecovillages range in size from small villages of fifty to a couple of thousand people. Designed to be self-governing, ecovillages try to create employment and a greater sense of community. Many incorporate and offer services such as libraries, forests, gardens and orchards. Energy supplies and community based entertainment in the form of markets and festivals are also features of ecovillages. See: http://gen.ecovillage.org/
5. Try WWOOFING
WWOOFing is an acronym for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms” or “Willing Workers on Organic Farms.” It is a network of national organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms. The WWOOF model is simple. WWOOF hosts provide volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods. WWOOF volunteers generally do not receive financial payment, instead exchanging their assistance with farming or gardening for food, accommodation, and the opportunity to learn.
WWOOFing is a great way to see your own country or other countries and learn about local culture relatively inexpensively. It allows you to meet like-minded people and learn new skills, and you can specify how long you wish to stay at a host’s residence. This can range from anywhere from a week or two to many months. There are some awesome retreats and communal living properties which host WWOOFers. The great thing about the WWOOF experience is that you never know who you will meet or where this might take you. See: http://wwoofinternational.org/
6. Learn About Landshare/Shared Earth
Landshare is a growing movement which brings together people who have a passion for home-grown food, connecting those who have land to share with those who need land for cultivation. Since its launch through “River Cottage” in 2009 it has grown into a thriving community of more than 60,000 growers, sharers, and helpers. Landshare has spread to numerous countries including Australia, Canada, UK, New Zealand, and the U.S., connecting people who want to grow their own fruit and veg (but don’t have anywhere to do it) with people who have land to spare. If there isn’t a Landshare set up in your region this may present an opportunity to develop. Similarly, Shared Earth (based in the U.S.) is a free online service connecting land with gardeners. There are an estimated 10 million acres of front and back yards in America alone which are unproductive. These could be put to better use than simply growing grass!
7. Reassess Where You Live
During the start of the industrial revolution people moved from smaller rural and regional areas to larger cities. Today, the most urbanized regions of the world include Northern America (82 per cent living in urban areas in 2014), Latin America and the Caribbean (80 per cent), and Europe (73 per cent). This rapid transformation from rural to urban has occurred over the last century, correlating with the growth and exploitation of fossil fuels and the abundance of cheap oil. Increasing populations have driven demand for real estate in certain cities, making many unaffordable. Cities can be expensive places to live and it is easy to become trapped in a never ending cycle of debt. Opportunities exist for a re-ruralization of certain areas. With the average age of farmers increasing in most countries there will need to be a new breed of Permaculture trained people and eco farmers. In many countries, rural communities have dwindled and or been abandoned entirely. This presents opportunities for those wishing to make a change from an urban environment to rebuild and create a new future.
8. Become Involved With or Help Establish a Cooperative
In the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting recession, co-ops have been recognized for their resilience. They have the ability to preserve jobs and economic infrastructure and support rural communities. Across the globe there are people working to rebuild local and regional food systems, and co-ops have a unique role to play. A food cooperative or food co-op is another model of food distribution coordinated and operated by members. Like most cooperative models they follow a number of principles designed to facilitate more socially responsible interactions. The primary distinction of a cooperative is that they are not influenced by external shareholders, being strictly managed by members. See: http://ica.coop/