When hope and gloom unite

This is the Matrix and I am Neo. Not because I am the One — I'm not. The reason I am Neo is because I really can fly, I really can stop bullets, I really can download knowledge to my brain.

The reader might expect that I justify the above but instead I will continue with even more outrageous claims: I really can control my thoughts. I really can overcome my trauma. I really can solve all my problems. Truth is, I'm pretty sure we all are Neo. But I would never allocate identities to other consciousnesses.

The other culture-defining movie of the post-1999 world teaches us how to do the above. In the words of Tyler Durden: “first, you have to give up”.

I know giving up works from my own experience. But it is just too negative of an instruction for the radically positive social imaginary of our world. How can I give up when I have such strong indication that hope is also a value I want to choose?

Thesis: hope
Antithesis: give up

But the stars aligned once more at some point in my life and I found out about the Synthesis: let go.

Letting go is the synthesis of both hope and giving up. Letting go expresses a lack of clinginess, which is the component of “giving up” I want to keep. At the same time, letting go is not negative, hence avoiding the component of “giving up” that I don’t like. Letting go does not exclude hope — on the contrary: letting go invites hope. By letting go X, space is created for the recognition and acceptance of Y.

This is how “give up” was reframed in my brain and thus acquired a new place in the world of language symbols. Now I want to give up (things), because it doesn’t mean I gave up (life). I gave up identities and desires and goals. Or at least I started giving up — they are unsurprisingly persistent. But something remains: working not for myself but in the service of the whole world; as well as making gifts instead of transactions.

What’s the point of gifts? The joy of giving them. Contrariwise, the point of transactions is the achievement of ego-driven justice. Ego says: “I will not be a fool and I will not be screwed over”. A transaction is an exchange in which both parties give up something and get back something else and both of these things are clearly defined to the two parties. Ego says: “I don't want someone to screw me over, and if not screwing them over either will do it, then so be it.” It’s a compromise. One that began because of ego. All this is in contrast to justice that could have began with empathy (e.g. “everyone should have a roof over their head”).

“There is no society”, someone said in 1987, “only families and individuals”. I find this statement immensely insightful not because it’s true but because it’s a definition of society I had never considered. The statement becomes true only when everyone chooses to believe it.

Which brings me to the main argument of this text: we choose what we believe and we can make true what we choose by believing it. It’s a choice, and if we make it consciously then it might even be a free choice of a free consciousness.

Here’s another statement, different than the one above. Maybe everyone will choose to believe this one instead — I certainly do:

There is no such thing as individuals, there is only the whole world.