To live in our world today is to sit with the heaviness of the many contexts of oppression, violence and injustice that exist. It can feel overwhelming and even disempowering, especially for those who want to drive change.
How can we see the light during such painful times? How can we take pause amidst chaos and hurt to stay curious? Who can we turn to and where can we go to find our common humanity?
To grapple with these questions, reflect with this episode’s insightful conversation with Simran Jeet Singh, a national leader in the areas of equity, inclusion, and social justice. Growing up in South Texas as the son of Indian immigrants, Simran is a self described “turban-wearing, brown-skinned, beard-loving Sikh,” who, despite continually facing racism and discrimination, chooses to find humanity and light in the world. Simran is also the Executive Director for the Aspen Institute’s Religion & Society Program and the author of national bestseller The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life, from which he shares guiding principles and practices in this conversation.
This episode was recorded on the 22nd anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. The attacks not only disrupted Simran’s understanding of safety with death threats and emotional abuse from his neighbors, but also shattered his identity in society as people saw him differently than how he perceived himself. He shares how instead of being consumed by anger and judgment, he embraced the Sikh teachings of love, compassion, optimism, and service to navigate the shadows of bigotry.
Tune in as Simran shares practical wisdom for seeing our common humanity in the darkest of times and sustaining ourselves as leaders in the long journey of social change.
In addition to his work at the Religion and Society Program at the Institute, Simran regularly writes for major media publications like CNN, TIME Magazine, The Washington Post and the Harvard Business Review and has been featured on stages like SXSW. Interested in delving deeper into Simran’s wisdom? Here are some resources you might enjoy exploring:
- Video: Simran Jeet Singh at SXSW 2023
- Book: The Light We Give: How Sikh Wisdom Can Transform Your Life
- Article | TIME Magazine: The Sikh Idea of Seva Is an Antidote to Our Current Malaise
- Article | Harvard Business Review: Boards Need Real Diversity, Not Tokenism
- Children’s Picture Book: Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person to Ever Run a Marathon
- More on the Aspen Institute’s Religion and Society Program
This conversation was originally recorded for a staff gathering at the Aspen Institute led by the People and Culture team. Thank you to the People and Culture team, the Women of Color Affinity Group, and the Men of Color Affinity Group, for hosting this conversation and allowing us to share it widely on LIMINAL.
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Explore the space between our greatest challenges and a better future on LIMINAL: Leadership in the Process of Becoming. Dar Vanderbeck, Vice President of the Aspen Global Leadership Network is your host and guide to inquiry with thinkers and doers daring to lead through the big, systemic transitions we need for true transformation. This season, we’ll talk anti-racism, climate change, the future of work, and more. Join us as we explore leadership in the process of becoming.
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