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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Question: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do for a living?

Transcript:Well having been the American negotiator in the Middle East for a long time, this is not something that I ever viewed as a sidelight. It’s not something that was just gonna be, “Well gee. I’ll do this for a couple of years. I’ll occupy the seat. And then when I’m no longer doing it, I’ll no longer care about the issue.” No. I still profoundly care about the Middle East. I still profoundly care about Arabs and Israelis. I have a larger foreign policy interest. It’s why I have written a book that deals with American foreign policy more generally. But I have a passion for this particular issue. I look at it differently than any other issue, not because necessarily it should be more important than any other issue; but for me it’s profoundly important. And I think the reason is once I got into working on this issue, and I came to know the peoples on each side, I saw them not as abstractions. I saw them as individuals with real hopes, real dreams, real victims, real suffering. And I somehow became invested in it. I became a believer that having known something about this issue, and knowing both sides the way that I do, that I have a responsibility to try to affect it. So everything I do now in one way or the other is still very much geared towards trying to affect what we do in the Middle East, and very much trying to make things better. I still go out to the region a lot. I still focus very heavily on how to try to change realities on the ground. You can affect policy even when you’re not a policy maker; but you can affect it much more directly when you are. So when you’re on the outside, you have a voice. And you have to use your voice. And I try to do that.



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