Webster’s dictionary defines ALTERNATE as “to change from one place, condition, etc., to another and back again repeatedly; to reverse direction of flow repeatedly”; and, FACT, as “something that actually exists or has actually occurred; something known by observation or experience to be true or real.”
Welcome to the world of “alternate facts,” a curious phrase – (two words that somehow seem to be in contradiction.) But, no matter. In these turbulent times facts seem to have fallen on fiction. People of good will feel they are living in a parallel universe, with one set of rules for some people, and another set of rules for the rest of us. Can facts be manipulated? Are we falling backwards into ignorance once more?
Think of the “alternate facts” that once existed, sold to an unsuspecting citizenry, only later to be thoroughly debunked. “FACT” #l: “The earth is flat.” (Disproved.)
What a shock to discover the real truth when explorers went forth and no one fell off the earth! So we put away our former limited thinking and forged ahead with expeditionary confidence.
“FACT “ #2: “The earth is the center of the universe.” (Disproved)
It is so like us to think that everything revolves around us. Corrected, we then gave allegiance to the mighty star in our solar system and the sun smiled benignly on its backward children.
Medical factual debunking continues to come to light, from the causes of certain illnesses, to the existence of unseen germs. The more we examine “alternate facts,” the more we expose them for what they are: distortions of awareness, “pretend” facts, ignorance.
Shame on us for defaming women – ducking so-called “witches” out of jealousy and spite – withholding the vote and equal pay. (Not our most shining moments.)
An entire body of evidence – prejudicial intolerant thinking – gave rise to “alternate facts” about groups of people that is still, disturbingly evinced today.
What we now know is this: Native Americans were never the “savages” we portrayed them as being. Instead, we were the thieves of their lands and their rightful heritage.
No race or group of people is “vermin” or worthy of our demonization. Rather, there is a need in a certain mentality, to defame others in order to build up itself – a meanness of spirit, that once given power, ruthlessly lies, bullies, steals, and uses its cudgels of fear to dominate and infect others.
We saw this clearly in World War II and in other unjust wars and conflagrations throughout humankind. No race is “three-fifths of a man or woman.” The noble Africans, stolen from their families and lands, brought against their will to a strange country whose barbaric customs broke their bodies, but not their souls, taught courage, kindness in the face of adversity, and endurance to the rest of us.
All – all of us – are created equal by a loving Creator who answers to many different Names. We are brothers and sisters: One. Let’s return, shall we, to the terms we lived under before “alternate facts” appeared to separate us.
Let us go back to that time in Creation “when the morning stars sang together.” We are those stars. Let’s go back, even though some will call us old-fashioned. Others will call it by its proper name: Truth. Shall we dare to embrace it?
Judith Stevens resides in Hampton Roads and contributes regularly to the New Journal and Guide’s MUSE quarterly section.