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Progressive Values Stories: Zeus Yiamouyiannis on Innovation and Caring

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“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat”

In this interview  Zeus Yiamouyiannis talks about how innovation is a progressive value. He also sees caring and nurture as progressive values and talks about having learned these values growing up on an organic farm and tending to the animals.

On one hand,  conservatives talk about traditional Failed Conservative Values of self interest, greed and selfishness, on the other hand, innovation, caring and nurture are some of the traditional progressive values.


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Progressive Values Stories: Zeus Yiamouyiannis on Innovation and Caring


My name is Zeus Yiamouyiannis.  I'm a progressive person.  I'm actually a progressive at heart, who worked on the Dean campaign.  Part of being a progressive is not just innovation and new ideas, and this pragmatism, fiscal responsibility, along with idealism, this ability to be creative, to believe in the goodness of the human spirit, innovate with regard to being able to collaborate.  These kinds of skills tend to go beyond the typical traditions.  But I think part of being a progressive is really collecting and honoring the best of both of those traditions as we go forward.

I like to tell people I'm an old-school conservative, with personal responsibility in the sense of honoring traditions, the wisdom that's gone before you -- particularly during the depression era generation -- incredible wisdom around sticking together, in terms of getting by on very little.

And I think these kinds of values help give you a good foundation.  If you take the best of the different traditions, a good progressive isn't so much balancing, but integrating.  They've been made the opposites, but they ought not be.  But by bringing them together, and the thing that makes a progressive distinct from either a liberal or a conservative in my opinion, is their ability to take the wisdom before them, but integrate it and go forward in a new, imaginative and innovative way.  That's to me what makes a progressive progressive. The founding father were progressive because they did take a lot of ancient Greek and even took Iroquois Nation principles and a variety of principles, brought them together and integrated them and used it to found these incredible innovations in democracy.  The balance of powers, this sort of thing.  That's what I would like to see progressives today be able to do, and I believe that's what's happening.  Part of a deep wisdom, build a people-centered democracy, create innovations about how we communicate, and an emphasis on the public sphere using developing technologies. 

If you're looking for personal stories, I can tell a little about my background.  I grew up on a farm a little north of Columbus, Ohio.  A small, organic family farm, which is not typical.  I mean people in California sometimes see that, but what I learned there were values of hard work and self-sufficiency, but also how much my own being and survival depended upon nature, upon the different aspects of the farm coming together, on me doing my part.

And so it gave me a great grasp of how important the natural world was, how important it was to fit together, to be able to care.  For instance, we had about 40 head of sheep, about 10 cattle, and we would raise them.  And sometimes the mother would reject their lambs, just decide they didn't want to bother raising them.  So we would raise them.  And bringing them down to the house, putting them next to a heater, and nurturing and feeding them.  And that was really important for me in terms of developing a sense of nurturing and care for others.

Innovation is not the product of logical thought,
although the result is tied to logical structure

Albert Einstein


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Founder of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. The Culture of Empathy website is a growing portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. It contains articles, conferences, (more...)
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