AIF Blog

Exploring Values

Jan 22, 2013

Leading up to the Festival track What We Believe and Why: An Exploration of Values, we asked 2012 Aspen Ideas speakers the following question: Where do your values come from?

Following are their answers—some surprising, some insightful, and some that will make you question where your own values come from. Explore sessions from the Values track here. (Learn more about each speaker via links at the bottom of this page.)

“Jewish teachings by way of my father.” –Donald Abrams

“My mentors.” –David Agus

“History, political ideas, philosophy, leaders, the people and my family.” –Laura Alonso

“From my family, especially my parents; from my up-bringing, especially in mid-20th century community in the American South; from my religion; from my reading of history and literature; from my experiences throughout life in a fast-changing world and with many different kinds of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.” –Don Baer

“Family, community, and church.” –Melody Barnes

“My mother.” –David Breashears

“My parents.” –Eli Broad

“My parents plus my almost 36 years in uniform.” –Nancy Brown

“A combination of faith, family, reason, and tradition.” –Stephen Carter

The usual suspects: upbringing, education, and also the ebbs and flows of a reflective, observing, grateful life.” –Erike Christakis

“My parents.” –Amy Chua

“Listening to other’s stories.” –Jason Chua

“Western movies.” –Neal Conan

Among the influences on me: my parents; the people of my hometown of Fall River, Mass.; Catholic social teaching; small Republican and communitarian ideas reflected in the thinking of Michael Walzer and Michael Sandel; thinking on the obligations on family life from the philosopher William Galston; and ideas about the importance of national political action reflected in the thinking of Lincoln, both Roosevelts, and Robert Kennedy. –E.J. Dionne

“Faith—Christian, Hindu, Buddhist; relationships with others; experiences in the world.” –Diana Eck

“I possess a communitarian ethic driven home by my upbringing in blue-collar Brockton, Mass., in the years following WWII.” –Kenneth Feinberg  

“Communities!” –Theaster Gates

My driving force in my work as a journalist, to always search for the truth.” –Hala Gorani

“My values are largely shaped by living in a culturally, racially, ethnically, and economically diverse city, New York.  Despite the increasing disparity of wealth, my thinking and values are continuously informed and challenged by the richness of ideas, art, and range of human experiences that surround me.” –Tracie Holder

“Live Your Best Life.” –Daniel Hong

“Nature.” –Joichi Ito

“Exposure to diverse people and places around the world…and my mom!” –David Janka

“From conversations with friends.” –Eugene Korsunskiy

“Being educated in the world of today and yesterday, questioning assumptions, seeking diverse views, and trying to understand the lives of others from every walk.” –Michael Kranish

“Home and family, particularly the first five years.” –Patricia Kuhl

“The Torah and Lenny Leder.” –Steve Leder

“My morals and values are the result of a continual process of attempting to be honest about who I am.” –Adam Lerner

“Growing up having wonderful role models around me.” –Xin Liu

“Trial and error.” –Shane Lopez

“A belief that human suffering is already bad enough, and I certainly should not be adding to it.” –Geoff Manaugh

“Graditute for ancestors, empathy for contemporaries, compassion for progeny.” –David McConville

“Christian faith.” –Daniel McDuff

“Montana.” –Dave Morin

“Mind + Heart + Community.” –Russell Muirhead

“A combination of Newton, Iowa, and rural Thailand.” –Charles Murray

“Personal accountability is what matters to me most.” –Seth Norman

“Family, community, wider society, and something innate but somewhat indeterminate.” –Dele Olojede

“Natural law.” –Timothy O’Reilly

“Family, religion, Minnesota.” –Norman Ornstein

“Experience.” –Ed Parsons

“From my many mistakes and my parents.” –Aaron Peck

“My mom and her unbridled optimism and faith in education and this country. My rabbis and their perspectives on life. And movies like that of To Kill a Mockingbird or Mr. Smith Goes to Washington that suggested that standing up for what you believe in regardless of the cost is of the highest value.” –Mark Penn

“My Irish Catholic Parents.” –Mark Preston

“Christianity, art, literature, conversation.” –Jane Shaw

“From trying to develop innovative modalities for patients in need.”  -Shimon Slavin

“A long standing and continuous reflection on the purpose of my existence.” –Mario Small

“My family and Jewish heritage. I drive inspiration from my grandparents who survived the Holocaust, the people who helped them to do so, and the new country their generation established for the future generations, it makes me want to be the best person I can and do great things for others.” –Naama Stauber

“Integration of daily observations and human empathy.” –Kat Steele

“I get my values from my parents.” –Stanley Tucci

“Parents and [my] relationship with Jesus Christ.” –Kevin Turner

“Ongoing reflection and observation, combined with a baseline of decency (do unto others...).” –Nicola Twilley

“My morals and values come from being raised as a post-WWII cultural Jew in 1960s and 70s America—as seen through the childhood prism of divorce, and shaped by my own experiences (education, public service, triumphs and losses).” –Joanne Weiss

“World travels and living in different cultures.” –Kenji Williams

“My mountain upbringing.” –Timothy Wirth