We are being encouraged to believe in “alternative” facts that support non-existent realities.

Traditionally we lived in an existing social and civic landscape that included the telephone for example.

At one time, in the not so distant past, you needed a wire to make a telephone work. That was the reality. Technology surged forward, and the new reality for phones is one without wires. It took years to get there, and with the agreement of millions of people we all decided what that particular reality was going to be.

At the time of the original telephone concept there was no alternate reality that envisioned a world of phones without wires.

That reality had to wait for real workable technology to make a wireless reality possible.

Civilized society is made up of rules, based on protecting the fragile egg of change and innovation that creates a landscape we all agree on.

That social agreement or construct of permission has been threatened, primarily, in the political arena.

Have we become what has been called a “useful idiot,” a term coined during the Cold War to describe a person who promotes a political or social idea without really understanding what it is they are promoting?

One person sitting behind a computer can generate alternative facts for fun or financial gain. The recipients of their ideas, propagated through the many rivers and streams of social media, may not be aware of the lack of ethics, awareness or intelligence of the authors of these ideas or alternate realities.

There is no qualifying research looked at by experts and debated by the appropriate people.

So the burglar who breaks into your home is not a criminal, he is just trying to make a living, a noble endeavor. How is that for an alternative fact?

The big difference between a failed society and a successful one is the degree to which people in that society agree on what their reality is, and finds solidarity in the mechanisms to change that reality.

Imagine we are all in an ancient Roman galley rowing away.

Our strokes are controlled by someone at the front of the boat beating on a drum.

All of a sudden there is a second and then a third drummer pounding away, both at a different beat. When asked why they are doing this when a drummer is already in place, they claim it is their right so they are doing it because they can. We all agreed to follow the first drummer, but now some of us are rowing to different beats.

The boat is just sitting in the water.

This is where we could end up if we are not vigilant – different drummers vying for our attention, but without the credibility and thoughtful debate that goes into their choice of beat.

–J.M.