For better or worse, the word matrix is now inextricably tied to The Wachowski (Brothers?!) ground-breaking motion picture of the same name. The idea that the world is a computer-generated illusion used to keep human electric storage cells quiescent has become a metaphor for all the illusions that society fabricates to control human behavior.
I need to use the word for one of its other meanings. Merriam Webster lists definition 3a for matrix as:
the natural material (such as soil or rock) in which something (such as a fossil or crystal) is embedded.
This is akin to what I intend to use it for.
The world we live in and the United States of America more specifically is the matrix in which we find ourselves embedded. It’s as if we had been fish swimming around happily in a lake and all of a sudden, the lake begins to freeze. What formerly was our medium of movement and breathing and where all the good things of life were found suddenly begins to contract and become cold, viscous, difficult to move in and eventually becomes our prison and our grave.
Or here’s another analogy. Living in the present progressive plagued world can be compared to pollution. When it first begins it’s hardly noticeable and is ignored because the source of the pollution is a luxury that we enjoy and the pollution doesn’t seem to be worth the trouble of addressing it yet. Most of the time the air would be fine and only around sources of the pollution would it be noticeable. But as these sources become more common, eventually the poison begins to degrade the quality of life and finally becomes deadly. Taken to its awful conclusion the only way to survive extremely high concentrations of air pollutants would be to breath only filtered and purified air. People would be forced to live in pressure vessels that could exclude the poisonous exterior atmosphere. And even if the people come to their senses and take steps to eliminate the sources of the pollution it would take a very long time for conditions to return to normal.
So, we are embedded in this hostile environment. We can think about how we can restore the former condition and even begin to put them into practice but the situation on the ground is that for the foreseeable future it is necessary to take drastic measures just to survive in the present environment. In the analogy of air pollution, it is necessary to artificially separate people from the toxic environment in order to survive. For us that means separating all the absolutely critical life functions (religion, child rearing, family life and time with friends) from the toxic environment. So be it.
What that means to me is that depending on the Republicans or Donald Trump or the Supreme Court to rescue us from the worsening situation is misguided. When confronted with a potentially lethal environment the only reasonable course of action is to build a shelter to survive it. You have to protect your children from the toxic culture. Home-schooling or a religious school (as long as it’s actually religious), restrictions on television and other entertainment, healthy activities, screening friends and their parents for unhealthy individuals, spending time with your children and talking to them about the things in the world that aren’t good for them. All these things play a part. An enormous part of your life has to be separated from the matrix in which you find yourself and this outside world has to be duplicated as a healthy version. All of these things are complicated and expensive both in time and money. And each one could be the subject of a post (or a hundred books). Rod Dreher’s book “The Benedict Option” is a good source book for ideas. But first of all come to terms with the fact that it has to be done. So be it. Make the best of it.