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Ethics and Marginalized Persons

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013

With a Hackworth Research Grant from the Ethics Center, SCU Philosophy Lecturer Brian Buckley developed a new course, “Ethics and Marginalized Persons,” that addressed the importance of personhood regarding people who are disabled, poor, elderly, or gay. The class included both community-based learning and theory.

In a reflection on a placement at Julian Street Inn, an organization that works with homeless, mentally ill people, one student showed how experiential and theoretical learning combines to impact action.

When I go to Starbucks for a drink, the way I treat the cashier sets the example for the person behind me in line. When I cut off another driver on the freeway, it sets the example of acceptable driving behavior. Likewise, when I hold the door for a senior, it sets the example that I value them being there and have the ability to slow down for them. We have talked about re-integration, but that is not an easy task. Gough says, “each of us is a role model” (Gough 113). In light of that, the re-integration process is a mission that everyone can impact. By accepting the elderly, by treating them appropriately but without bias, by giving them respect and dignity, I am setting one small but extremely important example. Hopefully, someone will see my example and copy my behavior. It then needs to become a habit for me, and then for him or her, and as this habit spreads so too will the re-integration. It doesn’t need to be the elderly. If I treat any marginalized person as an equal, it will show. It will set an example. That example will spread. Why? We are all human.