Dr. Ron Resurrection, the President of the PAP, with it its officers and members of the Board; Dr. Mar Eric Reyes, the PAP Convention Chair, and Dr. Nelly Limbadan, the PAP Co-Convention Chair, the expert speakers, and the two thousand delegates to the 56th Annual Convention of the Psychological Association of the Philippines, Inc.
It is a distinct privilege for me as President of the Ateneo de Davao University to welcome you to your Annual Convention in Davao City with its intriguing theme: Inclusive Psychology: Valuing Diversity and Accommodation Among Filipinos.
Not long ago, I was in Indonesia for a conference on peace. One of the statements made there was, “God created us diverse.” It was jarring to me at that time, because I had been more used to the statement, “God created us equal,” which was temptingly close to God created us the same. The conference was dealing specifically with the topic of preventing violent extremism; in this context, the statement “God created us diverse” had everything to do with opposing a notion that God created us Christian, and therefore I had the right as a Christian to hate, if not kill a Muslim who was not Christian. Or, that God created us Muslim, and therefore I had the right as a Muslim to hate if not kill a Christian who was not Muslim. Or, that God created us straight, and therefore I had the right to hate, exclude, beat up, injure, if not kill everyone who was gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning.
Last February 5th in Abu Dhabi, Pope Francis, representing Catholics from east to west, and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar of Cairo, Ahmed Al Tayyeb, representing Muslims from east to west, jointly declared that dialogue, mutual understanding and collaboration should replace dogmatism, mutual othering, hatred, violence and war. With this declaration they also upheld
First: “The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace, to defend the values of mutual understanding, human fraternity and harmonious coexistence…
Second, Freedom is the right of every person; each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race, and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which he created human beings.
It is against this background that I find your theme not only intriguing but, if I understand it correctly, relevant and terribly urgent.
You seek to understand, develop or promote an inclusive psychology: a psychology that values diversity and accommodation.
I presume this may be contrasted to an exclusive [or, an excluding] psychology: a psychology that does not value diversity and does not accommodate, a psychology that overlooks diversity, so rejects. In some cases the rejection can be so strong, that it socially excludes, psychologically damages, physically harms, or violently wounds, if not kills, the other. If you are not like me, I may or must “other” you, reject you, hate you, kill you. Or in passive aggression, press you to reject, hate or kill yourself.
May this conference find greater insight into the psychology that amidst the great diversity and richness of God’s creation is open to the other whose face is differentiated by age, culture, ethnicity, race, disability, gender, language and sexual orientation, yet in this self re-defining openness does not lose a self-identifying, self-integrating, autonomous social core that demands the openness.
May this conference help us to understand the inner urgings towards or inner aversions against the person who is different: a person dressed differently than I who speaks another language; a person much older than I always unhappy that things today are not what they were in the good old days; a person much younger than I finding identity and freedom in the cyber world, always averse to the conservative, rigid, over-protective ways of the elderly; a once-youthful person now battle-scarred from military forays against people who hate him and his people, the memories of people he has fought against and killed harmonized in his love for his parents, his elders, and his brothers, sisters, and playmates; a teacher from another tribe who shares her religion but not the way she was raised and lives. May this conference help contribute to the emergence of a Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao that must deal with ethnically diverse Muslim, Lumad, Christian, traditional, conservative, educated, less-educated, sophisticated, idealistic, wise, passionate and struggling-for-life groups within the Bangsamoro, and the emergence of a national consciousness that includes, supports and integrates the Bangsamoro as Filipino, as Ilokanos, Tagalogs, Bikolanos, Warays, Ilongos, Cebuanos or Christian Mindanaoans are Filipino, despite pockets of reaction, resentment and rejection.
Finding this inclusive psychology among Filipinos, it seems to me, maybe among the most crucial challenges in the social sciences today. If God created us diverse, psychology cannot confine itself to sameness and the data of sameness; it must address diversity, be fed by diversity and in diversity find its integrating insight in a humane humanity.