Long time readers will know I am keen on cutting across silos. Gillian Tett’s book (link to amazon here) makes the case for it and I see it in action all the time. It’s bad enough that a typical asset manager barely understands the ESG to impact spectrum and the debate and terminology around that, but I constant fail to make the notion of “pensions” of any interest to any of my arty friends. Hm.
This struck me recently again as I was sitting on a panel talking about the British East Asian Theatre experience (see the panel sessions, here ). Yet, for all our talk of moving out of echo chambers, we really seldom do (PS come mingle!)
OK. So one might challenge I am unusual in being a playwright and a pension fund asset manager, yet most everyone wears different hats and identities all the time.
Still, I felt the weight of speaking in this echo chamber and I was unsure if we would cut out wider. Not even many from mainstream theatre came to this pocket of East Asian-ness. (cf Mainstream investing with ESG). Perhaps, the liberal arts US university view has a particular strength here, in asking students to think about a wide range of subjects and thus widening the range of thought.
A useful forum for British East Asians to speak to each other, but only the beginning of a journey to reach out to others.
I am not religious. Some of my best friends are. (My fellow Harvard scholar is now a priest, and our conversations around transubstantiation still echo with me today) but one of the learnings I’ve taken from Martin Luther King, jr is an iteration of that.
It’s his sermon on “Loving your Enemies”.
“A … thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and every time you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points."
It’s this idea you must truly understand the opposing side, or another silo, to come and make progress.
This lack of understanding… I feel this in the activism from the British East Asian space. I see this in investing world. I observe this in arts’ difficult relationship with business. It seems to have much politics in a quagmire. Perhaps MLK was incorrect, but I wonder… where we do meet, we move forward; where we conflict, we stall.
The whole sermon is a very thought provoking read and highlights to me how amazing Martin Luther King, Jr was.
More thoughts: My Financial Times opinion article.
If you'd like to feel inspired by commencement addresses and life lessons try: Neil Gaiman on making wonderful, fabulous, brilliant mistakes; or Nassim Taleb's commencement address; or JK Rowling on the benefits of failure. Or Charlie Munger on always inverting; Sheryl Sandberg on grief, resilience and gratitude or investor Ray Dalio on on Principles.
Cross fertilise. Read about the autistic mind here.