Western civilization is rethinking sex, power, and money. But, as in the movie "The Matrix," most people still choose the blue pill rather than the red one, numbly accepting what they've been told, avoiding the truth that established norms are being seriously questioned. Yet events in just the past weeks provide evidence of upheaval:
- Same-sex marriage legalization and trans-gender discussions throughout Western nations;
- The rise of anti-establishment candidates in the U.S. presidential race and the Nuit Debout movement in Europe;
- Heated debate on immigration and Syrian refugees;
- Outrage regarding corruption exposed by the Panama Papers.
But what if we're missing the true significance of this groundswell of cultural confusion? What if we've all been so programmed from earliest infancy to see the world in one way and one way only - continually taking the blue pill -- that we can't see that the world could be profoundly different?
Yes, our culture is in upheaval and transforming. But in what direction? Are we birthing a new, more enlightened era? Or are we regressing to the values and mindset of hundreds of years ago?
What if we could see the real picture of what's going on - the deeper sources of our personal and societal discontent? What if we could see the disruption of our culture through a new lens? The lens of domination and partnership.
Applying this domination-partnership paradigm, we gain insight into the deeper dynamics of sex, power, and money.
Perhaps the underlying unease around sex and gender is actually an unconscious realization that pleasure rather than threat of pain is the source of human creativity and meaning.
Perhaps underlying the outrage over income inequality is the yearning for a life based on happiness and harmony rather than just material gain.
At its most essential level, perhaps all this cultural confusion and dissatisfaction reflects people's search for life and life-giving nurturance rather than constant conflict, death, and destruction.
We are at a crossroads between choosing to continue in a world still based primarily on domination, pain, and punishment...
...choosing to create a world based primarily on partnership - with others, with the Earth, and with ourselves.
It is not inevitable that we continue to live in a matrixed world of faux-civilized barbarism. We can change this once we see clearly what it means to be truly human. We can then reverse the dominator course we've been on for 5000 years and re-discover the partnership-orientation that is our birthright.
It is time we dismantle outmoded notions of sex, power, and money - time to take Neo's red pill -- and explore new possibilities for our future. Scientific findings support a more hopeful view of who we are and can be - and how we can each be agents for personal and cultural transformation.
Which will you choose, the blue pill or the red?
Riane Eisler, JD, is president of the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS), author of The Chalice and the Blade; Sacred Pleasure; and The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics; and teaches about personal and cultural transformation online.
Nancy Frank is an advocate for new partnership-oriented models through her affiliation with the Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) and a 30-year marketing veteran of technology companies large and small.