“The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even now in this very room. 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, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled down over your eyes to blind you from the truth, the truth that you are a slave. As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free.” The Matrix Well, folks, the Matrix exists! Not the computer generated “virtual reality” fed into the vat-grown humans of the movie, nor is it the creation of sentient machines at war with humanity, but it does exist, and its purpose is the same: to blind us to our slavery. The real, every-day matrix is more like the artificial world of “The Truman Show,” except that instead of everyone being “in on it” except Truman, the vast majority of us are “out of it” and being hoodwinked Think about it. How is it that regular folks like us ask the Sunday morning “news” program screens more probing questions than the “professional journalists”? Why is Dispatch “news” so different from Free Press, Alive, or even Columbus Monthly news? Why do almost all the national news outlets discuss the same narrow range of issues and avoid the same wide range of issues? Why do large corporations like GE own the media?

If we are a “democracy”: Why is it so hard to get new political parties on the ballot? Why can’t Columbus elect a school board that represents the people rather than the powerful few? Why can’t we have affordable, universal medical care? Why does the wealthiest 1% of Americans get more than 40% of the Bush tax cut? Why is anyone pushing to abandon Social Security? Why is anyone worked up over the so-called “death tax” (dead people can’t be taxed)? Who, exactly, is worked up over capital gains taxes? Who wants a flat tax? Why are payroll taxes paid on only the first $67,000 of payroll? Are the few or the many helped by these “popular” issues?

How did fighting and dying in Korea, Viet Nam, Grenada, and “Desert Storm” actually help us “keep our right to vote”? “protect democracy”? “promote freedom”? Who actually was served? Is our large military expenditure in the Middle East a subsidy of big oil? Why are Republicans slobbering over (“Communist”) China? Why do Libertarians suggest ending almost every aspect of government except the police and military?

Why do the Chamber of Commerce and the “Titans” have any say in the politics of Columbus when most of those folks don’t live in Columbus? After over 100 years of flooding residents, why is the tax-payer supported Franklinton flood wall being built now? Why do politicians demand improved schools but kick and scream about paying for the improvement? If private interests could afford to build and profitably operate the Columbus hockey arena, why did they first ask the tax-payers to pay for it (especially since Nationwide and the Dispatch both officially hate taxes)? If business taxes are bad because the tax is passed along to and paid by consumers, who pays for corporate suites at the Schottenstein Arena and the Horseshoe? Who paid for the millions of dollars of corporate political donations? Who ultimately paid the millions of dollars used by the Chamber of Commerce to attack Ohio Supreme court Justice Alice Robie Resnick?

What is this notion of “the rule of law” a “nation of laws – not men”? Who makes the laws? Whom do the laws serve? How did the man Stanley Arnoff beat the drunk driving law ? Why are so many minorities in prison? Why can’t Leonard Peltier or Mumia Abu Jamal get justice? Why is crack more severely penalized than powder? Why is Clinton “disgraced” and Ollie North a “hero”? Why could George Bush Sr. live in the east but avoid income taxes by claiming residence in a Houston hotel room, while a Columbus waitress has to pay income taxes on tips she doesn’t even receive?

I could go on, folks. The damning questions are almost endless. Even if only some of these questions get you thinking, that’s a start. All around us, in every aspect of life we are bombarded by propaganda designed to abuse our minds into believing in things that benefit the few and harm the rest of us. Almost nothing is ever done for the greater good of the many. Almost everything is done to maintain or enhance the favored position of the few. Almost everything done is for the few but sold to the many. This is becoming increasingly obvious in today’s ever more feverish push to accumulate personal wealth.

Don’t take my word for it; test the thesis in your own experience. Take anything in society that doesn’t seem to exactly make sense to you, look at the “official” explanation (the one that didn’t exactly make sense to you), and then ask, “who really will be helped here?” If you are not rich or powerful, the odds are excellent that you will not be much of a beneficiary of the proposal. You might have a bone thrown your way as enticement, but look a little further for the lies, misrepresentations, and the hidden costs involved, and odds are you will be taking on the largest part of the disguised liability, a loss more substantial than any promised “bone.”

This exercise won’t take long if the dynamics of the area you investigate are familiar to you, but if you are not well-acquainted with the issue, you may have to extend your effort. Look into the matter. Ask yourself how much you “know” simply because you have “heard” someone say things. Look into the motivation of the speakers. Cross reference their “facts” with other sources. Look at everything. Question everything. Then decide for yourself. Think about your own interest. Think about whether the matter really helps you or just tosses you a bone while really benefiting a select few.

Depending on what you choose as a test case, you might also have to overcome some bias or prejudice in order to make an accurate evaluation. Too many times – to our own detriment - we let ourselves believe ridiculous things if they seem to impact only on people or groups we have been brainwashed to look down upon or despise. In the end, if you find objectivity too difficult in one area, try a less emotional matter.

In any case, I’m sure you will be struck by the reality you confront, and once you get started, you will see a general application to almost every aspect of life. The most ludicrous things can be confidently stated and defended by speakers who trust in our ignorance, fear, and docile adherence to the myths promulgated by those at the top. As long as we accept the “virtual reality” they have pulled down over our eyes, we are their slaves, victims of our own self-deception. But if we can learn to observe what is really happening in our “matrix” and who really is being served by the actions of our “betters,” then the hollow, self-serving hypocrisy of those who would “lead” us will stand out like a beacon in the night.

Take the red pill. Be free.

P. Thomas Harker is also known as the “Ukulele Man”

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