Two high school seniors whose submissions to our Rotary Essay Scholarship Competition resulted in being selected for a $500 scholarship each have been invited to join us for our final “formal” meeting of the 2013-14 Rotary Year. That will be Thursday, June 19, at Quigley’s.
They are Collin Wilson of Tamarac High School and Sydney Bertrand of Troy High School. So far, Collin has accepted the invitation and will be accompanied by his parents. We are awaiting word from Sydney.
Here are the two winning essays — which had to be based on Rotary’s “4-Way Test” — as selected by our judging panel of Bill Dowd, Terry Brewer, Jim Butterworth and April Dowd.
By COLLIN WILSON
Tamarac High School
The Four-Way Test was a simple yet complex guideline created by Herbert Taylor in 1930 as a way to determine the ethical benefits of any organizational, financial, or even personal decision. It asks us to hold ourselves to the same high standards we would expect others to have, and instructs us to treat others with the same respect and consideration that we would hope they would treat us with.
It is because the standards established by the Four-Way Test we are able to affect and improve all of our actions, from personal interactions to business policies, that it has such a profound and applicable effect on society. It requires us to ask ourselves four simple questions before making a decision: “Is it the truth?” “Is it fair to all concerned?” “Will it build good will and better friendships?” “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
According to the Four-Way Test, the first question we must ask of ourselves before making a decision is “Is it the truth?” This question requires us to examine our decision and consider whether or not it is represented properly and truthfully. This question, when applied effectively, forces us to surrender all smokescreens and half-truths in the name of what is right. It eliminates gray areas and presents any situation or proposition in its truest form.
If every person on Earth utilized the Four-Way Test and simply asked themselves the very first question there would be no slanted statistics or smear campaigns, and dirty politics would become a thing of the past. Representatives would make the best choices for their constituents, rather than being caught up in the political underworld of bribery and corruption in return for support and favors. This simple question would promote trust, companionship, and confidence between all members of society if everyone were aware of its presence and power and were willing to apply it.
The second question asked by the Four-Way Test is “Is it fair to all concerned?” This question asks us to consider others in all of our decision so that nobody is cast aside or hurt by the choices we make. It asks us to consider the opportunity cost and consequences of our decisions prior to making them so that there is no fallout. This question, when applied properly, has the power to prevent exploitation of the weak and the innocent. If we as a society considered this question, then international labor laws would prevent the modern day form of slavery that is ever present in developing nations, such as China and Taiwan. Every person at every step of the manufacturing process would be paid fairly and would work in safe conditions.
This question could also have a profound effect on politics, as backroom deals would become a thing of the past as representatives realize that they are not always properly and fairly representing their constituents. This way of thinking could also greatly help our natural environment. If we were to consider Earth and her once bountiful resources as an entity that deserved to be treated fairly, then the sustainable harvesting and replacement of resources would become commonplace. Alternative forms of renewable and less limited fuel and energy would not be researched and developed as fast as science allows, as they would not only be fair to the environment, but they would also be fair to all of those who do not have access to expensive and limited sources of energy. This simple question could change the way continents and countries interact with each other, so long as it is embraced fully and equally by all members of society.
The third question, “Will it build good will and better friendships?,” is the question that is arguably the most easy to reap benefits from. Simply examining the kindness with which a decision treats all involved is easy to do if it is done willingly. The practice of treating others the way you would like to be treated is instilled into members of society from the very beginning of their lives, and is relevant throughout. This simple yet crucial question ensures that everybody’s interests are considered when a decision is made. No party to the decision would leave feeling beaten or betrayed. If governments were able to establish this question as necessary before finalizing a piece of legislation, then there would be no interparty animosity. This question does not require that everyone agrees with a decision; it just ensures that no one is left ignored, cast aside, or bitter. Of course, the application of this idea is very self-rewarding, as any challenge is easier to face with friends by your side and at your back. Building friendships is an obviously crucial part of building a happy and fulfilled individual life, but it is also important for international governments to build friendships to ensure that peace is preserved and international goodwill is able to flourish.
The final question asked by the Four-Way Test is “Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” This question goes beyond ensuring that truth be preserved, fairness be considered, and friendships be built. This final question not only ensures that the other guidelines be met, but adds that all decisions most drive society forwards. While the other questions maintain the well-being of society, it is only by providing benefits to all of society’s members that society itself is able to progress.
This question serves each cog in the engine of society well, and allows it to power society forward. Any company that considers this rule while manufacturing their product or providing their service will not only be received well with profitable margins, but the customers will come away happy with the product or good they purchased and employees will be rewarded for their competence. Each government official will go home with feelings of happiness, as they feel that their priorities were considered and met with favorable results. Individuals will have no reason to fight or quarrel, as there will be no loser left feeling sore. By ensuring that our decisions are beneficial to all concerned, we are able to provide every member of society with the betterment and progression of their lives that they, as members, deserve.
The questions and guidelines provided by the Four-Way Test are effective in improving the ethics and quality of decisions at every level of society. Any person, no matter how rich or how poor, can apply these cornerstones of decision making to not only improve their lives, but to improve the lives of those around them as well, and can help contribute to the improvement of society as a whole.
BY SYDNEY BERTRAND
Troy High School
For as long as I could remember, I thought I would someday be a grade school teacher. I thought this because I was inspired by my first grade teacher Ms. Audino.
Ms. Audino was what you would imagine a first grade teacher to be. She was young, pretty and energetic. My classmates and I followed her everywhere. We couldn’t get enough [of] her. I wanted to be liked the same way that she was liked by her students. I wanted to make an impact on children’s lives and make a real difference.
However, as K began high school I was faced with the reality of my decision to be a teacher. The near death of my aunt and the large amount of medical care she received made me decide to pursue a career in nursing. At the time I made this decision, I didn’t realize that I was using the Four-Way Test in making my decision.
Is it the truth? When I thought about why I wanted to be a teacher, I realized that I wanted to be liked by kids. The truth was that I wanted to be a teacher was for all the wrong reasons. Then I thought about [what] I really wanted to do for a living. I knew that I wanted to help people. I wanted to comfort people who are sick and down. I wanted to nurture people who were scarfed. I wanted to be like the many nurses who helped my aunt. My strengths as a person and my experience with my aunt’s illness, helped me decide to pursue a career in nursing.
Is it fair to all concerned? My decision to pursue nursing in college led to many decision that affected my family. The additional costs of going to a college with a string nursing program and the decision to leave my home affected my mom and sister. For many years, it was always the three of us and now my decision would be taking me away from my home life. Was my decision fair to all of my family? In my opinion it was. My mom wants me to succeed in college and in my nursing profession. She has supported me in all my decisions, including athletics and community service. While she would be so sad, she would not want me to make a college decision based on how she would feel. My decision to switch career choices was fair for my family and was fair to me.
Will it build good will and better friendships? Nurses are well known for good will and friendships. They spend a lot of time with patients. The first impression that a nurse makes will often create their relationship with the patient. Nurses are in a position to build good will so that a patient will trust them in their medical care that they are receiving. My desire to help patient[s] with their fears and help them understand what they are going through makes me the perfect candidate for a career in nursing.
Will it be beneficial to all concerned? Nurses are important to patients. The future shows that nurses will be in high demand and will take on more responsibilities and provide more care. Smart, energetic and compassionate nurses will build good relationships with patients and their families especially during a time of need. I have all of these traits and look forward to using the, in a medical setting. I feel my decision to pursue a nursing career will help me impact my patient’s lives/