The topic for Week 3 of the Professional Ethics Course is: “Are we really all equal?”
(Apologies for the lack of posts, life doesn’t seem to care that I’m trying to blog, in fact I think it’s trying it’s best to undermine my efforts!)
“There is neither Jew nor Greek [race], bond nor free [social status], male or female [gender equality], for we are all one under Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28
In my mind the word equal means ‘EXACTLY THE SAME AS’ (for a better definition of Equality, see Sheila Marie’s post here). Maybe it comes from the good ol’ days in maths class. Whenever you saw a “=” sign it meant that what followed was the precise answer to the question. Nothing more. Nothing less. So when I try answer the question, “Are we all created equal?”, it confuses my brain a little. Are we really all exactly the same? There are so many aspects to this question…
Are we created the same way? Usually a sperm and egg are involved, then LIFE happens
Are we made up of the same ‘stuff’? Yup, blood, guts, bones and some DNA
Do we believe the same things, do we think the same, do we make the same choices? No, no and no
Are we entitled to the same things? Yes
Do we have the same abilities and interests? Nope
Are we essentially, equal? Yes
Is everyone treated equally? Definitely not
Should we be trying to remedy this? YES
As a Physiotherapist in South Africa, I am expected to treat ALL patients and human beings equally. The South African Society of Physiotherapy (SASP) Member Credo states: “I will place health care above consideration of race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, social standing, political allegiance or nature of disease”. The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) sees it as my responsibility as a Health Professional to: “at all times act in the best interests of my patients; and to respect patient confidentiality, privacy, choices and dignity”. In terms of my faith, I am also told to treat everyone the same, but it’s not always easy is it? It’s sometimes hard to realize that we can engage with people about their beliefs, religion, politics, sexual preferences, etc. without necessarily agreeing with them. That we can respect their views without adopting them as our own.
Now what about Justice? Should we try to treat everyone equally and leave it at that? Justice by definition means being fair and reasonable. Treating someone equally without trying to correct an imbalance or disability won’t always help. An example would be allowing a child with a disability to attend a ‘normal’ school without attempting to cater for their disability. Equal access doesn’t mean equal function or participation. It’s sometimes easier to treat people equally instead of just. I found this picture to better illustrate the difference between Equality and Justice.
I really enjoyed Reham’s post about her experience with people assuming things from the way she dresses. You can read her post here. What an honest and insightful post. Assumptions can be dangerous and hurtful. I learnt anew not to assume anything because I will most often get it wrong! Treating someone equally means allowing them the freedom to just be themselves.
Lastly, I like the way Chantelle summed up her post on Equality (it’s something I strive for as well):
I believe that focusing on how you act and engage with others, is what is important. It is a personal goal to try and see people without judgement, as your equal, a human being, deserving of equal respect, protection, understanding, kindness and care.