Martin Luther King & the Rotary 4-Way Test

Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. King said, “The greatest birthday gift my husband could receive is if people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds celebrated the holiday by performing individual acts of kindness through service to others.”

“Service to others.”  Those words should echo louder for Rotarians than anyone else.  Our motto, “Service above Self” places in front of us the belief that we are here to serve the greater good.  We are here to put helping others ahead of our own self gain.  Today, January 16, 2017 we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King’s National Day of Service.  Making this, “NOT A DAY OFF, BUT A DAY ON.”

Every Monday we recite the 4-way test:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Reading that again, I believe that test could have been written by Dr. King himself.

Is it The Truth? – “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

The phrase was quoted by Dr. King in his famous I Have a Dream speech, as the “creed” of the United States.

Is it FAIR to all concerned? – He spent a lifetime trying to get to the root of fairness on equal rights.  That All men are created equal.  Not just white men.  Fairness and equality is what Dr. King ultimately gave his life for.

Will it build GOODWILL & BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? – (from his Noble Peace Prize Acceptance speech) – “I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. “And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.” I still believe that We Shall overcome!”  From “I have A Dream – I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?  Was there any doubt that what Dr. King preached would be beneficial to all mankind?  Harmony, peace, love, & equality.

In his final speech before his death, this is what Dr. King had to say about what is beneficial to all concerned through his words of peace: ”And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”  He saw what was beneficial to all.  That speech was delivered on April 3rd.

As we spend today celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, let us remember that the same ideals that unite us in Rotary fellowship, were principles that Dr. King spent a life time fighting for.  Ultimately giving his life for on April 4, 1968.

1.    Is it the TRUTH?
2.    Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3.    Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4.    Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Remember, make today a day on, not a day off.  Thank you.

Keith Souza

Author: Aaron Fritz

Joined Rotary in 1999. Past President of the Highlands Ranch Rotary Club, Charter Member of the Rotary Club of Castle Pines, Past President of the Rotary eClub of Arizona, and current Assistant Governor for District 5490. Multiple Paul Harris Fellow. 2nd Generation Rotarian.