|Morality and the Matrix...|
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Dear Mad Elf,
I have a problem. A big one. The kind that wakes you up sweating in the middle of the night, the kind that makes you wonder about it all, the kind that make you think about putting a gun in your mouth when your head's in your hands. I'm a Catholic in the Matrix, and I'm not sure I can go on.
I killed someone today. A security guard. I had three Agents behind me and at least 300 civilians between me and the subway exit. Stuck between a rock and a down escalator at rush hour. A wounded team-member on my shoulder, and a security guard ahead.
I shot him. Stuck a bullet in the head of an old man with a badge and a gun, with a wife, and a family, and god knows what else, to get out. Used the reaction of the crowd to clear a path, to get free.
What I want to know is this. Did I commit a sin?
If I killed, fine, I'm damned. But isn't freeing someone from a life as a storage battery a blessing? If he was a construct, I'm off clean, but I still did it. I suppose what I really have to ask is if I can find a priest who'll absolve me?
Or are there too few Hail Mary's in the world to spare?
Mad Elf replies...
Well Jake, let's have a look at this. If the old man had been a construct, you wouldn't be guilty of anything - after all, only humans can be murdered. However, the chances are he was human, and in that case, you have indeed committed a sin. One of the biggies, too.
There's no point in trying to justify it by saying "ah, but he was just a lonely old man" or "but I freed him from a life of servitude". Even if the Machines had arranged for this one particular person to be the recipient of every torture, degradation, and suffering that they could devise, 24-7 for his entire life, it would still be a sin to kill him.
The thing is, you're looking at all this from the wrong perspective. Putting aside any possible claims of self-defence, the thing you have to remember is that you're fighting a war here! You were surrounded by potential enemies, trying to make your escape with a wounded comrade; of such things are heroes made! You should feel pleased that you only had to kill one person to get away! Remember: in a war situation, killing is perfectly okay. (Of course, the leaders of the Free Humans have officially declared war on the Matrix, haven't they?)
However, even if this argument isn't enough to convince you, there is hope. You seem to feel bad about killing the old man; you've definitely expressed some remorse in your letter. So go find a priest, confess, he'll give you absolution, and everything will be all right again. All sins washed away. Don't worry about penance, you're fighting an Evil Oppressor; saying "Oops, sorry" is probably enough.
Oh yeah, don't even consider topping yourself. That's the one sin you can't get absolution for (not after the fact, anyway), and you really will be damned!