“Tell us your fantasy; we’ll give you the memory.”
In the preview for Total Recall, we see a futuristic world where people can choose a memory they want to be theirs, and have it implanted into their minds as if it was theirs. So, if someone doesn’t like his life, he can implant better memories. A person can change his/her life, at least their past, without actually changing a thing. The problem is, once that memory is theirs, they no longer know truth. People can’t distinguish between “what is real and what is recall.” In fact, it goes so far that the main character has to then ask the question, “If I’m not me, then who … am I?”
Makes for intriguing plot possibilities, to be sure. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the movie has some good messages overall. The thing which haunts me about it is how much we seem (as a culture) to be already on this path.
Our culture is one of escapism. If you don’t like your life, you can escape it. You can get divorced, change jobs, and move. You can watch movies or television, take drugs, drink, and eat comfort food. If it gets really bad, you can have an abortion or commit suicide. Those are all ways to escape (and just a few of them, mind you), but we don’t stop there. We can also reinvent ourselves. We have alter-egos, fake ID’s, and avatars. We have plastic surgery and file for bankruptcy. And what we can’t change about our actual world, we can no doubt change in our virtual world. In our virtual world, we can say we are anything we want. I don’t like my age? I can lie about it. I don’t like my face, I can use someone else’s for my profile, or photo-shop my own. No problem. There is no limit to our ability to escape and reinvent ourselves, our lives, and our pasts.
It seems to me that our real world isn’t so very different from Total Recall. We too can change our lives without actually changing a thing—or, let me say it this way: We may change our appearances, but we haven’t changed our reality. So, for example, though we may look younger, we aren’t actually any younger. But, just like the movie, we run into a problem—this escaping and reinventing can actually bring us to the point that we no longer know the truth. We can’t distinguish anymore between what is real and what is altered—and eventually we don’t even know who we really are anymore.
There are those who have had so much surgery, we don’t know what they really look like anymore. There are those who have reinvented themselves online so many times, they don’t really know who they are themselves anymore (and certainly no one else does!). There are also those who have spent so much time in an altered state through drugs and alcohol, they can’t remember the past, or distinguish fact from fiction about it. There are those who have lived so wrapped up in other people’s lives via movies, television, magazines, etc. that they don’t even realize that that is someone else’s life and not their own.
The truth is, we have a world full of people who, rather than working hard to become, have worked hard to escape and reinvent, and those people are going to be asking themselves at some point, “If I’m not me, then who … am I?”
The answer to what ails us is a tough one. We need to engage, not escape. And we need to change from the inside, not just reinvent ourselves (it’s the issue of style vs. substance). In order to do any of this we need to start with our Maker and ask Him who He intended us to be—thus answering the question of “Who am I?” Then, if there is a distinction between who I am supposed to be and who I am being (there always is), He can help us to change.
Satan is a liar. He lies to us about the past and about who we are. God tells the truth. He IS truth. When we need to know the truth about what is real and what is recall, when we need to know who we are, and when we need the power to engage and change…He is our only real hope.
-by Stacey Tuttle-