“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.” Is it too late to take the red pill? As I was reading through Stephen Hicks’s book Explaining Postmodernism, I instantly began reflecting on the movie, Matrix. Hicks dives headfirst into Postmodernism with all its influential philosophers. He explains that the postmodern stance is in direct opposition to modernism. By seeing that postmodernism leads to “nihilism” – the destruction of traditional values and beliefs, one gains a better understanding of the process. Tracing postmodernism back to the philosophers that influenced its conception, helps bring understanding of how its many complexities fit together. Hicks confesses that even if one understands the many influences and the consequences that ensue postmodernism, it can’t be refuted.
A person may watch the Matrix trilogy for its special effects and actions scenes, or, for the numerous philosophical influences hidden within its script. The French postmodern philosopher, Jean Baudrillard, argues that the modern consumer culture and its many simulations are far more real than reality itself. We live in a consumer culture that is filled with things that are created to represent a form of reality that isn’t true. Plato believed that the world we live in was an illusion. Humans needed to free themselves from the illusion in order to find reality. Rene Descartes questions whether one can truly be certain the world that is experienced is the real world. He concludes that human senses cannot be trusted and that everything we know may be under the control of evil. Since dreams are so vivid, they therefore must be real. In the Matrix, Neo realizes through the guidance of Morpheus, that his human existence is just a façade. It is not reality. What was really happening was humans were being raised in fields and farmed as a source of energy for the machine world. A human’s entire life existed encased in ooze where their brains were stimulated with the illusion of living their lives with an independent free will. “What is the Matrix itself? Control. A computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this.” A copper top battery. Neo rejects the idea and Morpheus – like Hicks – explains that it is a hard reality to grasp, but it is the truth.
Hicks’s intent is to help us gain a better understanding of the world we lead in. He isn’t without his critics. As a leader, I find it necessary to understand the many influences that have molded my thinking. Some of them are negative, some are positive, and some have been evolving for centuries. And yet others are in reaction to centuries of thought. Some I have chosen, and some have been thrust upon me by culture. Like Hicks, identifying the influences along with their ramifications doesn’t change the fact that they exist. Much like we see in Tom Holland’s book Dominion, whether one believes or not in Christianity, its influence cannot be contested. Like Kant, there are many times I feel the need to choose faith over reason. Though we live in a messy world, I choose to believe that God is not surprised; that He has a plan for good and not for evil. I choose to place my trust in a God that is bigger than my understanding. Who is more powerful than my problems and who loves His creation with an everlasting love? It is by choosing faith that I can lead, love and embrace those that are consumed by a postmodern world. I am appreciative of each and every one of my fellow doctoral candidates and to Dr. Jason Clark for their influence. They have breathed fresh air and insight into me as a leader.