Choices are a very interesting concept – for many times, people have wrestled over the concept of choice and whether or not our choices are really independently made – or simply made as a result of previous choices made for us. And this is especially the case when it comes to choices we deem to be negative and judge others on. There was a film from the 90s that was made on the issue known as the Matrix – a film focusing on a character named Neo who was prophesied to free others from a virtual reality world where others were enslaved to keep the machines alive who depended on them.
The film was very engaging due to how it focused predominately on the power of choices and not going with a system when you have awareness of it. Later on, the concept of choice was flipped on its head entirely when the rest of the Matrix Triology came out…..paticularly, the second one known as “The Matrix Reloaded” ()where Neo discovers that the entire issue of “The One” prophecy and his choosing to leave the Matrix to wage war on the Machines was in no way really true freedom. Neo ‘s focus on his own choices being paramount were challenged when faced with the Architect’s explanation that much of what he felt he could “choose” was really set up. Choosing to leave the Matrix to wage war on the Machines was in no way really true freedom – and there were were 5 differing “Ones” prior to him who never told him because they saw it as the only way to save humanity.
He discovered that it was all set up as a system of control, with the Oracle playing off of intuition/knowledge of free-will choices and influencing others toward certain action while making it apear that they had chosen it freely – for the illusion of choice was necessary to keep things going on as usual. The Oracle’s view of choices already being made and the Architechts view of choice being limited shifted the focus of choice. And this is in addition to what the Merovingian discussed when sharing that one can only see causality in understanding choices.
When I went back/examined the film series, I saw many applications to what occurs in everyday life. Often, it seems that people are either focused solely on the choices they make – or others judge them for their choices and lay out a path for them to follow as if it was always within their power. But not many consider the ways that the choices others make can be limited based on what was already chosen for them.
The subject of human trafficking comes immediately to mind. Many of those women trapped within a system of bondage (like Neo/others in the Matrix) often do not see it as bondage – nor do they feel that the choices they chose are seperate from being influenced by other existing factors. There were many stories I remembering coming across that surprised me when hearing the backgrounds of these women. Many of them camed from severly abusive backgrounds where their parents kicked them out or bellittled them continually. …and then they found a man (later to traffic them) who actually hugged them/spent time with them or validated them by saying they were special. Many of them came from backgrounds where they were desperate for cash/finances and were lured by opportunities such as a “modeling job” (as advertised by the trafficker) – and found a trafficker who helped to provide substantially for them and buy them lots of clothing/resources before asking them to do sexual acts gradually…and later switching on them for being uncomfortable, like they should’ve been “thankful” /not questioning things.
And others hose to remain in the system due to the ways they felt it was all they could find success in – with them being isolated from their family/friends – and even feeling sorry for their traffickers/choosing not to report them when hearing them share their own struggles and say they were simply doing what they felt they had to do (like slaves falling in love with their masters or Stockholm syndrome where the abused victim falls for their captors).
Others judged them for it in saying “You could’ve chosen a different life!!!” – but much of what they were inclined to do was out of their control. Like a person robbing a store and being told “You made a choice to rob and could’ve been legitimate!!!” even though the person robbing the store may’ve been desperate as a convict with a family who was denied a legitimate means of generating income because he had a record and felt desperate.
An analogy for the trafficking dynamic/choice can be seen in seeing a woman jump from a building/throw her child with her. Other bystanders could easily say “Look how she chose to kill her child/herself and commit suicide!!!! How selfish!!” – but other factors could be left outside of the evaluation that make a world of difference. If the building was on fire, people would consider that the woman jumped thinking it was better to risk falling out of a building (possibly surviving) than burning alive with her child and suffering a horrible death. There’d also be consideration that perhaps there was no knowledge of exit routes to save herself – and that she was never told such by other workers…influencing the choices she made before being forced to make one. When choosing between burning alive or jumping, would it have really been a simple “choice” – or would it be something more complicated and worth understanding? I’d chose the latter.
No one just falls into something as severe as traffcking – as there are other things that can lead up to choosing it – and staying it voluntarily in many cases is something that truly feels out of the control of others.
For more discussion on the issue, some places to investigate are “Out of Darkness” – as I went to a conference recently held by them geared on tackling the issue in Atlanta. Additionally, there is a wonderful documentary film on the issue of trafficking and how it relies on everyday which others are not aware of to enslave others. One can investigate the film at the following: