I WAS invited as one of the speakers during the International Women’s Day Celebration last March 16, 2021. Let me share in this column what I shared that day. The message is for all, not only for social workers.
To our colleagues and friends in the social work profession, my heartfelt greetings on this 2021 World Social Work Day. I AM BECAUSE WE ARE!
Our theme indeed soothes desolate souls struggling in different ways these troubled times. It echoes the assurance: there are people who still truly sense and advocate ONENESS amongst mankind.
This truth, I AM BECAUSE WE ARE, was demonstrated by South African President Nelson Mandela in his leadership qualities: advocacy for peace, powerful presence that disarmed enemies with his smile, high level of forgiveness, positive thinking, ability to see the big picture, focus on goals and missions beyond self, remarkable endurance, determination, humility, hopefulness and patience. (Leadership_Nelson Mandela)
In a word, I AM BECAUSE WE ARE means ONENESS.
In celebration of the 2021 World Social Work Day, we in PASWI are going to share Philippine cultural traditions leaning towards connectedness or, ONENESS.
I am from up north Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines. In Sagada, we call the spirit “ab-abiik”. A Sagada kid’s Igorot names is called for home at the end of a days’ works in distant fields or after distant travels because the kid’s “ab-abiik” or spirit, free and innocent as it is, might have wandered to revel in the beauty of nature. The spirit has to get back to the body lest it be left behind. When that happens, the body gets sick. And, the kid’s Igorot name must be the one to be used when calling the kid’s “ab-abiik” home. The ancestors help in guiding the spirit back. Our earlier ancestors were unaware of baptismal names!
I came to fully understand the nature of the spirit when the meaning of “man has inherent worth and dignity”, the philosophical foundation of Social Work, sank deeper into my consciousness. This deepened consciousness of the meaning of “man has inherent worth and dignity” is a consequence of my appreciating these selected provisions of law:
Art. 5 of PD603 provides that the civil personality of the child shall commence from the time of his conception. x x x.
Art. 37 of the Family Code provides that juridical capacity, which is the fitness to be the subject of legal relations, is inherent in every natural person.
Section 12, Art. 2 of the Constitution says that the Sate protects the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception. X x x . and
Section 13, Art. 2 of the Constitution says that the State promotes and protects the physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being of the youth
The foregoing clearly explains that life begins at conception, not at birth as many think. And, Conception is the time when the sperm travels up through the vagina, into the uterus, fertilizes an egg found in the fallopian tube, and ultimately, pregnancy results. (www.healthline.com › health › womens-health)
My conclusion: If life begins at conception, and man’s worth and dignity is inherent, then man’s worth and dignity must be present at conception, too.
Question: But, is it the embryo of sperm and egg which constitute the life that begins at conception and that has worth and dignity?
My Answer: NO. It is the embryo and spirit that is vested with worth and dignity, at conception. And, the Oxford Living Dictionaries define the spirit as the non-physical part of a person which is the seat of emotions and character or the non-physical part of a person regarded as the true self capable of surviving physical death.
Question: But where does a person’s inherent spirit originate?
My Answer: From the Supreme – God. And, it is because everyone’s spirit is from the same Supreme that mankind is interconnected, ONE.
Question: What is the significance of mankind’s ONENESS?
Answer: 1) Let’s acknowledge the presence of our living spirit or soul; and 2) Let’s awaken or strengthen our spirituality.
Question: What is Spirituality?
Answer: It is experiencing union with a higher being;
Emerging from oneself; and
Experiencing inner happiness as one does his responsibilities to man and
It is the inner path that enables a person to discover the essence of his/her being. (Wikipedia)
It is the path of the mind and the spirit.
Question: And the mind?
Answer: It is man’s faculty for thinking, reasoning, and applying knowledge. It is human consciousness that starts in the brain and is manifested through man’s thoughts, actions, emotions, will, memory, and imagination. X x x .
The mind, therefore, is the instrument of the body and the spirit. Whatever is generated in the mind results in emotions affecting body and spirit.
Conclusion: Heightened spirituality strengthens interconnectedness not only among social workers but between social workers and their clients and among mankind at large.
How can one emerge from self?
By primarily being conscious of one’s emotions, thoughts, attitudes and actions.
What are common negative emotions people have that are toxic to the spirit?
What attitudes do people full of anger, hatred, resentment, sadness and fear tend to manifest?
- Being judgmental
Should social workers unload negative emotions and attitudes?
Yes. Negative emotions and attitudes are blocks to meaningful relationships.
We have to emerge and be free of them.
If there is no emergence from one’s self, there is no freedom. If there is no freedom, there is no humility. If there is no humility, there is no love.
If there is no love, there is no maturity.
In maturity, there is power and fruitfulness, for self, others, and God.
How do we eliminate the blocks?
Let me close with this prayer. I invite participants to say the prayer with me and feel the essence of every word.
Oh Greatest Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds, and whose breath gives life to the whole world, hear me! I am small and weak. I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and the purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made, and my ears sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise that I may understand things you have taught my people. Let me learn the lesson you have hidden in every leaf and rock. I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy…myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes. So when life fades as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame. (From the movie 500 Nations)
Thank you. Let’s live through this COVID-19 pandemic in prayer and forgiveness. In the name of mankind and God, let’s emerge as better social workers.
I AM BECAUSE WE ARE.