Posted by Pete Leenhouts on Jun 08, 2019

More than 60 years ago, in the midst of the Great Depression, a U.S. Rotarian devised a simple, four-part ethical guideline - a test - that helped him rescue a beleaguered business. The statement and the principles it embodied also helped many others find their own ethical compass. Soon embraced and popularized by Rotary International, The Four-Way Test today stands as one of the organization’s hallmarks. It may very well be one of the most famous statements of our century. The Four Test challenges us, in the things we think, say and do, to ask:

1. Is it the TRUTH?

2. Is it FAIR to all Concerned?


4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Profound in its simplicity, and used as intended, the Test becomes a key element in any type of decision-making.

Central to its effectiveness, is the first question: Is It The Truth?

It’s fashionable these days for many people to assert there is no such thing as a single truth, that all truth is relative to the individual and the situation. Yet, most Rotarians know that assertion to be false.

Truth exists independent of what we wish or want to believe. It is factual - that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.   

Of course, human nature being what it is, human beings often twist the truth to fit their preconceived notions, to torture it into fitting what they might wish to be their perspective. People talk about “their reality”. Yet, the truth exists, whether or not we really want to acknowledge it.  

The Four Way Test sets a difficult and challenging way in front of Rotarians, and beckons us to live up to each of its elements, the first of which addresses the central issue - “Is it the truth?”

I think most of us would agree that our nation is experiencing what seems to be a meltdown of our national and cultural principles, the standards which have sustained us through many challenges over the generations since the founding of our republic.

Yet, the Four Way Test, developed as it was by an individual facing utter and complete ruin in the depths of the Great Depression not only for himself but for his employees, offers us a solid rock of stability in such challenging times. It is an elegantly simple solution to the challenges we face.

It is entirely probable that we might fall short of its chiseled precepts, but as Rotarians I believe that we should daily strive, in all aspects of our lives, to live up to the Four Way Test :

Is it the Truth?

Is It Fair to all concerned?

Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

Will it be beneficial to all concerned?  




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