Saturday, January 31, 2004

Who are we?

Ah yes, the eternal question. If you've seen the Matrix trilogy, you know that it was a question pondered frequently by the stories' central characters. It is a question that philosophers have asked, and attempted to answer for thousands of years. Usually with idiotorian like answers. We've all hear that who and what we are is pretty much pre-determined before we're even born. Whether it's genes, that God made us who we are and we have no choice (BTW, no good Christian should believe that), or that events in our lives that we have/had no control over have made us who we are. And what of those who've gone through Hell and back, were born addicted to alcohol or crack, or with some sort of genetic defect only to become a huge success (relatively speaking)? Well, they were exceptional cases, the average man can't be expected to handle and overcome this time of thing right? Certainly not you or I. Right? Or maybe not. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is so much simpler than that. What if the answer to the burning question "Who are We?", is really as simple as little words. What seven words? We'll get to that in a minute. First let me illustrate my point, and to do that I'm going to take you to a place that has been a part of American life for over three quarters of a century. I'm talking about Hollywood. The silver screen. You might say "But Ivan, how can Hollywood and seven little words answer the great question?". And I would say "Well if you shut up and let me talk I'll tell you.". Sheesh. So let's take a look at a couple of recent Hollywood hits. We'll look into the amazing Spiderman and the Matrix trilogy. "Huh?", you say. "Yup", I say. First the Matrix. Take Neo for example. In the Matrix movies, Morpheus said to "Merv" (Meril VinGi, the french dude) that everything begins with a choice. Merv said that everything was based on causality and the "why". Agent Smith said that existence was based on purpose. The purpose of humans was to supply the machines with energy, the purpose of the agents was to stop the renegade humans, etc. Everything had a purpose, if it didn't, or had served its purpose, it was deleted. Merv said we were all victims of causality, we only reacted to events that transpired around us. Even the One had a purpose. He was to re-integrate into the source, and re-balance an equation. But something happened. He CHOSE no to re-integrate. He chose not to re-balance the equation. He even chose to become the One. He could have never gone back in to save Morpheus, he could have chose to run from Smith in the subway. Even Smith, when faced with deletion chose to hide inside the matrix. At the end of Revolutions (an awful, awful movie BTW) Smith asked Neo "Why go one? Why keep fighting?". Neo answered "Because I choose to.". Yeah, that's nice Ivan, but WTF is your point. Shut up and let me finish and I'll tell you. In the movie Spiderman, look at the two main characters. The hero Spiderman, and the villain, Goblin. Spiderman was bitten by a spider (duh) and the Goblin became so because of a lab accident. Now granted both events were beyond the control of the respective individuals. But what they did afterwards wasn't. Spiderman/Peter Parker, used his newfound abilities and went and joined the local wrestling league. The Goblin on the other hand, chose to go around murdering people. Well it wasn't his fault though, the chemicals messed up his brain, affected his nervous system. Yeah, well Peter Parker's DNA was affected directly, you can't get much more traumatic than that. But Norman Osbourne was crazy, it wasn't his fault. Well, yeah. That is almost a valid argument. Except at some point he did confront himself, and gave in to his darker side. And really, the Goblin was just another side of his own personality. He knew what he was and what he was doing, and he continued with his homicidal behavior. Yes, it really is as simple as that. Modern "progressive" scientist will say that we are born the way we are, that we really don't have any control over it. Freudian type psychologists will say that we are just a victim of the world around us and are no more than a product of our experiences. But it really is just so much simpler than that. It is as plain as the insanity in Howard Dean's eyes. It comes down to those seven little words I talked about. What words? You haven't figured it our yet? If a Hollywood arch villain like the Goblin can figure it out, why can't the rest of the world. We are who we choose to be.