What do you do?

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.


Ross is a scholar and practitioner of American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Why the ocean you know and love won’t exist in 50 years

Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?

  • Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
  • The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
  • If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Health care: Information tech must catch up to medical marvels

Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.

Photo: Tom Werner / Getty Images
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
  • Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
  • As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
Keep reading Show less