“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. 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. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more.” – Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix (film).
Concurrent to the underlying theme in the said scene, there comes a point in life when we experience something so disturbing that we are forced to re-look at our most cherished beliefs that we were conditioned to believe from birth.
Beneath the reality we live in, another and altogether different reality lies concealed to our indoctrinated mind. The programming started right from the moment we began our earthy career to tame the mind from wandering beyond the pre-set boundaries. The molten thinking is carefully put into a society-imposed mould with the aim of making the young minds ‘civilized’, a euphemism for calculated imitation and unwillingness to question the accepted and explore beyond.
The modern education system creates a practised dumbness as opposed to simple ignorance of yore. People assume they ‘know’ everything to so complete an extent that further mental exertion is considered superfluous. Such minds lend themselves to easy manipulation by government, organizations etc because their mind, far from being a black box, is sculpted by pre-information which auto-guides itself to prescribed roads.
But aren't we urged to think independently all along? While the scope to wrangle endlessly over minutiae is undoubtedly enlarged, the edifice upon which our societal values are built today is left untouched. Government-approved schooling to that extent serves as a propaganda machine that dovetails minds to think in prearranged lines with immoveable, immutable goalposts set, that independent thinking fuelled by curiosity barely survives education.
Aren't better schooled countries supposed to produce more enlightened citizens? This may be the desired outcome, but with critical thinking capabilities clipped even while the mind is supplied with closely-monitored information, the real outcome more often is mass-production of extremely homogeneous minds whose faculties are flooded with the same set of thoughts, beliefs, ambitions etc. A case in point, one of the best-schooled nations of modern Europe Germany fell prey to Nazism, which though to our eyes (conditioned too) appears evil wasn't evaluated as such by many Germans of that era. Such mass-dumbness to what’s otherwise plainly visible yields an explanation only in terms of mass-dumbness that modern educational system manufactures.
But I digress. The point isn't whether modern education system is better or worse than the one it replaced. It isn't also about whether there is any plausible alternative. The crux is, we’re plugged into a matrix of belief-system that slowly, but thoroughly invades our mind and creates structures that forever remain unquestionable.
Many people have this rare moment of clarity at some point where they begin to understand that somehow their worldview wasn't as wholesome as they believed. That something is amiss and the happenings don't fit into the conceptual framework that they were given to imbibe. But the problem is that its easier for human mind to replace one error-prone belief system with even a wholly irrational, extreme system than to protect the vacuum created by displacing the former. Because human mind abhors vacuum it has to know or at least make up a coherent rationalization of happenings for it can't stand not knowing. To start with, one needs to welcome chaos within oneself to unplug.
The red pill, as in the film, is bitter & disturbing. All it offers is truth, not faith. But the truth will make you free. However painful, one has to grab such situations and take it to the logical conclusion so that one is free of the mental prison, whatever the cost.
So the next time you see a 40 years plus man behaving awkwardly do not attribute it to mid-life crises alone. Per many studies, men reach the pinnacle of their mental prowess around 42 years when they are able to combine their intellect and experience to often achieve their peak performance. Coincidentally, this also is a time when they realize that much of the received wisdom was not designed to benefit them personally. The rebellion at being deceived so long and their new-found freedom from the societal shackles which he longer accords much value may be at the heart of his drastically changed & apparently reckless behaviour.