From Death to Life: The Story of Beauty, Meaning, and Social Judgment

Rose Sculpture by Yaron Bob of Sderot, Israel.

Rose Sculpture by Yaron Bob of Sderot, Israel.

Ten years ago, Daniel Pink wrote about why the 21st century would belong to the right brain. He wrote about how the economy would not be driven by the functionality of goods alone, but by their beauty and messages associated with them. He spoke of the rise of social entrepreneurs and the drive to make meaning out of life.  He wrote about how education would need to change to emphasize creativity, critical thinking, and teaching students to combine ideas into something new and better to improve the world (innovation). In his book A whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, he wrote about “high touch,” the concept that our leaders and innovators would be those with the capacity for empathy and social judgment, and the ability to incorporate meaning and purpose in what they do.

I often think of his book and predictions because ten years later evidence of his predictions are all around us; here in the United States and elsewhere, like in Israel.   I thought about Pink’s book as I heard a profound story shared with those at the recent AIPAC Policy Conference.

Yaron Bob lives in Sderot.  One day while he was out, the sirens began to blast, signaling an approaching rocket from Gaza and only 15 seconds to find shelter. With nowhere to go, Yaron, seeing a wall nearby, ran to it and crouched low to the ground by the wall. Suddenly, there was a loud explosion, just on the other side of the wall. The only thing between life and death was that wall. Traumatized, he just stood there as the police arrived. He wasn’t sure why at the time, but before leaving he asked the police for the remains of the Kassam rocket. They gave it to him and he returned home.

Yaron, an artist, looked at the remains of the rocket, a symbol of death and destruction, and decided that he would melt the metal and repurpose it. What did he do? He took the metal and fashioned it into a blooming rose and then shined and smoothed the surface so that it would be bright and “alive.” At the base of the blooming rose he placed a plaque that identified the day and place the rocket exploded.

He shared with the AIPAC audience that he wanted to affirm life, stating that Jews are a people of life and hope. He purposefully took a symbol of destruction and refashioned the rocket to become a living symbol of Israel’s perseverance in the face of terror.

The story does not end there. Yaron now collects the remains of Kassam rockets fired from Gaza and creates life-affirming sculptures from them. On each one, he memorializes the day and place the rocket landed. Finally, the proceeds from selling his art go to help build more bomb shelters in Israel to save lives.

This is a profound example of the “right brain future.” We are touched and moved by the beauty, meaning, and message of Yaron’s work. It takes us to a higher mental and emotional plain (high touch) with a human message and a social and humanitarian cause. It is the blending of beauty and the affirmation of life against the backdrop of evil. Here is the link to his website and work: From Rockets to Roses.

Creativity, innovation, and art framed in a social justice context are more prevalent and accessible than ever, just as Daniel Pink had predicted. We can appreciate art and beauty just for its own sake as people always have. And more and more, we see creativity, innovation, and art used to make us think, to inspire us to act, and to communicate a social message to better our society. Yaron’s work is such an example, as is the Ad Council’s recent video about love and diversity: Skeletons – Diversity and Love.

Art, innovation, and creativity, helped by Internet’s ability to spread a message widely and quickly, have a never before experienced power to inspire hope, influence attitudes, and motivate people to action for the sake of good. We are experiencing the power of “high Touch” as described in Daniel Pink’s book, which is still relevant and recommended reading ten years later.

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