The boiling-frog thesis holds that if you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will leap out, but if you put it in cool water and slowly turn up the heat, it will blithely get cooked. If there's a thesis to our annual 10 Ideas issue, it is that things are changing in fundamental ways, but the changes are gradual enough--and enveloping enough--that we're not always aware of them. I'm not suggesting we're all getting cooked; some of these changes are definitely for the better. Some examples: More of us than ever are living alone, but that isn't making us more lonely. More Americans than ever say they have no religious affiliation, but spirituality in some ways is on the rise. Sociologists used to worry about the psychological burden of low status; now it turns out that high-status people have their own stress. In many ways, we've ceded so much of our privacy, we're not aware that we have lost some of it in public too. These are some of the paradoxes of modern life that are explained inside.
This issue also contains stunning pictures from the civil war in Syria. They are by Italian photographer Alessio Romenzi, who has been there on assignment for Time. He has risked his life over and over again bearing witness to civilian casualties in the cities of Homs and al-Qsair. He managed to safely cross the border into Lebanon in late February.
Make sure you also read Jon Meacham's essay on Rick Santorum's interpretation of John F. Kennedy's 1960 speech on church and state. I've always thought the question is not whether there should be a wall between church and state (the phrase comes from a letter of Thomas Jefferson's and appears nowhere in the Constitution) but what is the proper role of faith in how an elected leader makes decisions.
Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR