Alternative Present — Alternative Future

I am writing these words from my home in Israel after a week of not concentrating on anything but the news. While some countries are still struggling with COVID, reality in this corner of the world has already managed to archive COVID as “old news,” replacing it with missiles from across the border and organized violent chaos from within. Apart from the obvious fear, many of us who observe this accelerated decay of the fabric of our country feel a mixture of shame and terror of just how easy it is to lose a sense of direction and tear apart things that took years to build.

The scale of what we now experience is nothing like COVID if you consider it globally, but unlike the pandemic, the reality we now live in is 100% manmade. It is controlled by people — by everyone involved. Some of them have made a conscious choice. Some are blind to the implications. Some feel they are exclusively right. And some don’t really care. And that’s what makes the situation even more devastating.

Within all this chaos and darkness, a seven-minute speech by Yair Lapid, the Leader of the Opposition in the Israeli parliament, was able to ignite a ray of hope in the hearts and minds of many Israelis. And unlike so many other politicians and publicists, Yair Lapid managed to do that not by exploiting the difficult images we all see in the news and taking one of the sides. Instead, his speech provided a different way to see our reality and then sketched a different future for us to strive to.

Alternative (view of the) Present

It sounds simple, and maybe in hindsight, it really is, but when you are bombarded with images, texts, and shallow commentary, it is easy to get drawn to the default, well-rooted way of seeing things. When you see mobs of Jews and Arabs fighting in the streets, not only against each other but also against good innocent people, it is too easy to see the picture as “us vs. them” (no matter which side you are on). It is too easy to focus on what you see on screen and consider it the complete and devastating representation of reality. It is far too easy to take a side or get despaired.

The news, social media, and even your random conversations with other people, emphasize the radical, the abnormal, and the extreme. When all you can see 360 degrees around is that extreme fragment of reality, any vision that carries hope for a better future becomes vaguer and unrealistic.

And then came that speech and, without letting us ignore these scenes, offered a different way to see them. Instead of focusing on Jews vs. Arabs or Left vs. Right, Yair Lapid defined a different equation: these people rioting on the streets vs. the vast majority of citizens who wish to lead a normal and lawful life. The vast majority of us, Jews and Arabs, Left and Right, who do not accept these shocking events. For every person violently creating chaos in the streets, there are hundreds of people across the political and ethnic spectrum who do not accept it. And when you see these scenes with that interpretation in mind, you feel anything but powerless.

It was a simple shift to the Negative Space — what is not shown on TV (because normal, lawful people do not generate views, likes, and shares) — that created a completely different picture. The events we see on screen must not be ignored, but they are only a fragment of the picture. We are not passive viewers — we are part of the equation. And therefore, no all is lost.

Any Creative idea is built on someone’s ability to see something from a fresh, unconventional perspective. Even before making any step forward or before defining the destination, this new view of reality is a game-changer as it creates hope for a change. It empowers us to be part of the change. And that by itself is already making a change.

Alternative (vision of the) Future

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A new way to see the current reality places you in a better position to take the first step forward. To take this step, you have to know where you are heading. In the second part of his speech, Yair Lapid portrayed a future — a vision of different reality we must strive to. A future in which law and order become once again the most critical foundation of the state. A future in which no one is above the law. He sketched a vision of reality in which we are all living not just side by side but together as a community. And he reminded us again that the people who want that — the ones you don’t see on the news — can do that because we are the sane majority.

After setting the stage by creating a new equation describing the present, we can leverage it to visualize an alternative future. How to realize it and what should be the next step is far from being obvious. Realizing a creative vision is often a long journey that requires immense effort. And that is why having a vivid vision of the destination is so crucial. This is our lighthouse — our beacon. The details might vary. They will surely change with time. But the direction is clear.

Sketching such a vivid vision people will connect to requires powerful Imagination. You have to imagine an alternate reality to be able to start the journey. Imagination is the link between what we Experience and Observe today and the future we aim to create. Imagination gives us more than just hope. It is driving us forward.

We often associate Creativity with bringing something new into existence — something tangible. I would like nothing more than to see the vision Yair Lapid painted in bright colors being realized. One thing is sure, without the ability to Observe reality, see and understand it differently, and Imagine a new, better reality, nothing will ever be changed.

Creativity starts in our minds. The path between an alternative view of the present and an alternative vision of the future — the course we create using our Imagination — is the path on which we take the first step toward being better people.

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