Existential Positive Psychology (PP2.0)

Radical Positive Psychology: A Manifesto

Paul T. P. Wong, Ph.D. C.Psych
Toronto, Ontario

This is the title for my keynote address at the International Council of Psychologists in San Diego on August 13, 2007. Currently, there are different visions of positive psychology. The goal of radical positive psychology is humanitarian rather than self-serving. We at the International Network on Personal Meaning believe that the world needs a positive psychology which seeks to transform negatives to positives. Radical positive psychology dares to embrace the unworthy, challenge the tyrants, and bring heaven to hell. Here is the manifesto of radical positive psychology:

Radical positive psychology is for radical times.
It is for individuals and nations
in times of extreme needs.
Let us through research, education and practice
Bring dignity to the downtrodden
Justice to the oppressed
Freedom to the imprisoned
Happiness to the depressed
Healing to the broken-hearted
Rest to the over-burdened
Comfort to the bereaved
Friendship to the lonely
Hope to the hopeless
Courage to the fearful
Peace to the war-torn areas
Light to the darkest regions
Shelter to the homeless
Food to the hungry
Water to the thirsty
Medicine to the sick

There is actually a long and venerable tradition for radical positive psychology. Recently, Nelson Mandela describes the goal of World Council of Elders in the following words:

“We will work to support courage where there is fear,
foster agreement where there is conflict
and inspire hope where there is despair”

A nonprofit organization, World Council of Elders, Inc., has been created to facilitate the gathering of the world’s indigenous wisdom-keepers, such as Desmond Tutu, Kofi Annan, and Jim Carter. The organization is dedicated to preserving, sharing and integrating traditional indigenous wisdom with modern cultures toward worldwide healing, peace and sustainable living for future generations.

Way back in the 13th century, Saint Francis of Assisi uttered this memorable prayer about the Christian mission:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

From different faith traditions and different historical times, people have always been yearning for peace, justice, freedom and happiness. These noble objectives cannot be achieved, if we only care about our own personal happiness and success; we need to develop a global vision for the human family.