Red pill, blue pill

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.”

Existentialist Jean-Paul Sarte said “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”

Sartre was of the belief that ours is a godless universe. Thus there are no absolute guide or understanding in life, neither is there a moral code for us to follow. Sartre meant that we are all radically free. Free to the point of feeling abandoned and forced to take full responsibility for everything that happens, even though we probably don’t really want to.

He also famously said “Existence precedes essence” meaning one first exists, then invents oneself through the choices we make.

The responsibilities that come attached with this freedom can be quite intimidating. We end up feeling despair. For not only is there no god to guide us but our freedom leaves us solely responsible for what we become. To relieve the burden of choice off from our shoulders we will attempt to deceive ourselves and act as if we are not free. This is known as acting in “bad faith” or with “double heartedness”. It’s a form of self delusion. A defense mechanism subconsciously imprinted to protect us from the heavy responsibility that freedom of choice provides us with.

When we blame others for the bad things that happen we get away with not taking responsibility, yes, but we do so by pretending that we have no power to change our situation. We pretend we have no choice. When we fail we have a number of options to better our chance of success. We can discover these by asking ourselves the simple question “What could I have done differently?”. But instead we blame others. With Sartes philosophy in mind we might argue that this is a way for us to pretend that we are not free to choose our own fate. We convince ourselves that we do not have the freedom of choice and are therefore not responsible for the outcome. We act as if we are bound by the circumstances and must choose to accept them the way that they are.

In life when we blame others or circumstances we waive the power to improve our current situation. We renounce our freedom to choose and leave it up to others to define who we are. This might seem easier but if we look a little closer, the cracks start to appear. Is choosing not to choose not also a choice? No matter how we try to deceive ourselves there is no escape from our own infinite freedom. So go ahead. Take the red pill. Follow the white rabbit. You’re doomed to be free anyway.

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