Reply to what ought psychology to do?



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  • Reply to: Amber


Reverend Jesse Jackson (2000) passionately and poignantly appeals to the American Psychological Association to join the fight for social equality. Pointing to the larger social precepts that allow for racial and economic discrimination, Jackson (2000) asks the APA to survey the bigger picture of society. Pointing to discrimination in health care access as well as racial and neurological discrepancies in prison sentencing, Jackson (2000) implores the APA to inform democracy. He asserts that there are fundamental social bias’ that allow laws and policies to favor the rich and exclude the poor (Jackson, 2000).

As a minister, Jackson ends his speech by pointing to the biblical narrative of the lost sheep. In the story, the good shepherd leaves the 99 safe sheep to seek and save the 1 sheep that is lost. In the biblical account, Jesus is the good shepherd and this distinction, in my opinion, is the problem in Jackson’s (2000) appeal.

While the problems that Jackson (2000) addresses are real, trying to apply biblical principles through a secular medium is impossible. The APA is not built on love and goodwill for all. I believe that the church is the vehicle that God chose to heal the world. Yes, we (the church) are failing. Yes, we have allowed fear and self-protection to replace radical generosity and love, never-the-less, Jesus remains the hope of the world. I think that Jackson (2000) and King (1968) were both prophetic in their perception of the innate brokenness of humanity that leads to prejudice and power-struggle in society. However, I do not think that an institution that is devoid of God can bring a deep level of healing that our world desperately needs.

Jackson, J. (2000). What ought psychology to do? American Psychologist, 55(5), 328-330. ISSN: 1935-990X (Electronic)

King, M.L., Jr. (1968). The role of the behavioral scientist in the Civil Rights movement. American Psychologist, 23(3), 180-186. ISSN: 1935-990X (Electronic)

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