The phrase "treat others as you would like to be treated" comes to mind when thinking about how to interact with others. When people talk about treating people equally, however, what they generally mean is treating them "equally well." If we treated all people equally -- parents, children, peers, people on the street -- we would become "have a nice day" robots. Evelyn Hu-DeHart reports that white women and Asian Americans may no longer require affirmative action programs, as they have made sufficient inroads in employment and upward mobility. Native Americans, Blacks and Latinos, however, still need the protected support of affirmative action to reach equality, according to Hu-DeHart. Treating people equally requires that an individual or society not discriminate because of race, colour, religious belief, gender or disability. The sooner people get actively involved with treating people equally well, the sooner society will become a level playing field.
Listen equally. Communication between people is paramount when it comes to treating people equally. So, whether you are talking with the president of a corporation or a clerk who does the invoices, give them both your complete, undivided attention when they are speaking.
Show people consideration no matter if they are young, old, poor or disabled. A bit of common courtesy goes a long way.
Scrutinise rules. Although rules were theoretically created to treat everyone equally, they may be impractical -- or even wrong -- in some instances. If a store has a rule, for instance, that dogs are not allowed, then visually impaired people with guide dogs can't shop there. Fortunately, the law provides exceptions for service animals that assist people with disabilities.
Offer people what is appropriate for them as an individual. Treating people equally doesn't always mean giving them exactly the same thing. Inviting a Hindu to a BBQ, for example, and expecting her to eat steak like everyone else is incorrect. Similarly, you wouldn't serve roast pork to Muslims.
Know individuals before you form an opinion about them. Avoid making snap judgments about people. Think of the movie stars who are perceived as glamorous people when they arrive at the Oscars. Then juxtapose that picture with the ones the tabloids print when the same people are having bad-hair days.
Act differently toward people in certain situations; you need to be practical about treating people equally. Your 15-year-old daughter would resent having to go to bed at 8 p.m. because that is when her 6-year-old sister has to turn off the light.
- Ask yourself whether justice or mercy is more important when it comes to treating people equally.
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images