February 13, 2003
This is late. We ( Y.O.E. and Y.Y.E) apologize to all
W.V.R.C literati anxiously awaiting the timely delivery of this prestigious
publication. Unfortunately, the union went on strike. No, not really. Actually,
the dog ate my notes. No-No that is not right. My kid brother flushed them down
the toilet. Yeh! That is it. Uh- wait a minute. I don’t have a kid brother.
Actually, Ernie was in meeting at UCLA regarding bringing in Pat Riley to coach
the Bruins. They needed to know his favorite ice cream flavor. And me, Y.Y.E.,
well I was in Washington helping President Bush with the war effort, etc. etc.
etc. So we is late! Sorry!!! But you know what they say "Better late than never"
Now for the news- President Ted had his cousin Edwina
(Lillian Kliewer) do the pledge & pour the tea. She cleaned up good. Cousin Jed
(Elliott Turner) did the invocation (doesn’t clean up so good). Jack Harris did
lead us in a song. It was "Rock around the clock" I seem to remember Little
Richard accompanied on the piano.
Ralph Beasom introduced the visitor of which Marjorie
Zickfield shone brightly among the mob.
at the friendly W.V.R.C. seemed like Hollywood. Cameras, film, crews, directors,
producers and script girls. Opps! No script girls. But we had Dr. Myron Taylor.
Who needs script girls? And what a performance he gave. I present for your
benefit his notes. Film at 11:00
ROTARY AND THE STATUE OF LIBERTY
A man took his young daughter to New York City to see the sights.
Late in the afternoon they steamed out into the harbor to see the Statue of
Liberty. He told her how France had made a gift of the Statue to the United
States and how new immigrants coming into New York harbor first saw the
famous lady majestically holding high her lamp of liberty. Together they
read the inscription-"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send
these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden
Then as the tourist boat chugged back toward shore and the Statue began
to fade in the gathering dusk the little girl said to her father, "Shouldn’t we
go back and help the lady hold up her light in the darkness?" It was a child’s
remark but perhaps, there is a much-needed truth in it for us.
Rotarians are patriotic people. We love this country of ours. As Jefferson
said, "It all begins with freedom." This is "the land of the free and the home
of the brave." We value a government "of the people, by the people, for the
people" (a phrase that may well date back to the time of John Wycliffe
1329-1384). We value freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of
religion, freedom of the press, freedom of protection under the law. That lady
holding aloft her light of liberty has been the symbol of freedom to millions of
immigrants who sought refuge on these shores.
I have recently finished Robert McCulloughg’s John Adams. Every
American should read it. It is a story of great faith and courage and sacrifice.
Adams literally sacrificed his career as an attorney for the creation of this
nation. As McCullough writes:
"There was no American nation, no army at the start, no sweeping popular
support for rebellion, nor much promise of success. No rebelling people had ever
broken free from the grip of colonial empire, and those we call patriots were
also clearly traitors to the King. And so, as we must never forget, when they
pledged ‘their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honor,’ it was not in a
manner of speaking."
As Adams himself had so wisely said, "the Revolution was in the minds and
hearts of the people." And it changed the world.
We today must remember that democracy cannot be merely inherited. It must be
reborn in every new generation. As Lincoln said at Gettysburg: "This nation,
under God, shall have a new birth of freedom." That new birth of freedom
must create responsible personal character in the individual citizens. Lincoln
redefined America with the "Gettysburg Address". He knew freedom meant truth and
fairness and justice if there was to be peace. Lincoln learned forgiveness
rather than vengeance. When Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, his
soldiers were destitute, tired, and starving. The first thing General Grant did
was sending them food. That is freedom with Character. Freedom is a curse when
not accompanied and balanced by intelligent, voluntary, responsible, public
spirited, personal character in the individual citizen. "The first line of
democratic defense is not against an external foe (in spite of the fact that we
are facing such a foe in the present moment) but against an internal loss of
those ideas and qualities that must in every generation reproduce democracy" (Fosdick,
A Religion To Support Democracy, p 200).
Arnold Toynbee, noted British historian, analyzes the 21 civilizations
preceding ours and notes that every one of them fell from within-from inner
decay. There is no protection from loss of integrity. You have heard me tell
many times the story of how The Chinese built the Great Wall to seal them in and
to shut their enemies out. It is a mighty wall-formidable and strong-you could
race a car across the broad top of it. But it did not work-one of the enemies
merely decided to bribe a guard at one of the gates and the mighty defense was
useless as protection. There is no substitute for integrity. The Personnel
Manager for a large Phoenix bank was asked, "What do you look for first when you
hire a person?" The answer: "Character." A survey was made for the most
important quality for engineers and the answer: "Character-honesty-integrity."
How much do we pay each year for the people who cheat and steal and lie?
Billions undoubtedly. The first sentence in the first paragraph of Quincy Howe’s
World History in Our Time says, "The twentieth century has put the human
race on trial for its life." That may very well be what is at stake in the
twenty first century.
But, what kind of response do we get to this situation? We respond to
the ethical in different ways in our business life. Some simply say we operate
under a free enterprise system in which profits are legitimate, and any way we
can make a profit is acceptable. Many of the large fortunes of the very rich in
this country have been achieved that way. No thought is given to the rights of
others, the lives of others, or what is right and wrong. Profits are what really
count-any way you can get them. Being ruthless is part of the process.
"Everybody is doing it."
Others say that profits are legitimate, but they must be achieved by
means that are legal. You must stay within the bounds of the law. Profits earned
in an illegal manner are not legitimate. It is considered in some circles to be
a disgrace for a business to be caught earning huge profits in an illegal manner
(for instance, working children 12-16 hours a day). Some think any method is
acceptable so long as you don’t get caught. Business people often seek to
influence legislation that will be favorable to greater profits.
There are others who say that for our system of government to be strong
and work effectively we must go beyond the singular concern for profits and the
effort to operate within the law and actually be concerned about what is right
and wrong. There are moral standards that must be observed. Yet, that doesn’t
quite settle the issue for moral standards are often relative-dependent upon
circumstances-not perceived the same by all of us. Many years ago J. C. Penny
adopted as a moral principle for his life and his business, what we call the
Golden Rule-"In everything do to others as you would have them do to you". But,
some of us have changed that to read, "Do to others before they do to
you." It is fine for others to be honest and truthful but I will be smart and
cut corners and win by breaking the rules, fudging, by deceiving, by lying, by
manipulating, by intimidation. The trouble with so many moralists is that they
are so rigid, no give a take, so self-righteous they make everyone else feel
Rotary takes another view. We can make a difference in the world, and we
can do something about ourselves and our companies and our business. Rotarians
meet, we plan, and we work in our various communities, where we are constantly
confronted with four simple questions-24 words, mostly one syllable. Those
questions were born in the rough and tumble of the business world. They have
been put to the test numerous times. Those who have taken them seriously know
that they can make a difference. They were put together by a businessman,
Herbert J. Taylor- for businessmen and women. He put his business to the test of
those simple principles during the years of the depression and he made it.
They work for the person who believes in them and wants them to work. It has
worked and is working for thousands of business people around the world.
Rotarians are patriotic people. We pledge allegiance to the flag with
feeling. We sing patriotic songs with gust. We talk a lot about freedom,
especially the free-enterprise system. We praise freedom as the essence of
democracy. But we tend to forget that freedom is a curse when not accompanied
and balanced by intelligent, responsible personal character. Consider with me
Rotary’s Four-Way Test-not a law, but four questions, four principles, four
IS IT THE TRUTH?
The very concept of truth raises many questions in our minds as soon as
it is mentioned. Journalist shy away from reporting truth, they aspire to get
just the facts. Academics speak of postmodern relativities of truth and fact.
Power and special interest groups define and shade the truth to suit themselves.
Only the naïve, they say, speak of the truth about anything. Yet, Albert Camus,
the famous French existentialist, said: "A Truth is as mysterious as it is
inaccessible, and it must be fought for eternally." Our world is making it very
clear to us that persons and businesses and nations cannot escape forever the
demands of truth. Germany had to face the truth about itself at the conclusion
of the Second World War. Japan had to face the truth about itself. Russia has
had to face the truth about itself. South Africa has had to face the truth about
itself. The United States has had to face the truth about "all people are
created equal" and there is "liberty and justice for all." All citizens have the
right to vote. Women have the right to vote. Enron-Anderson are having to face
the truth about them. Whether we are talking about ice-skating or the biggest
business deal of the century, we will always be concerned about truth and
character. No system has been devised that ultimately does not depend upon the
moral action of individuals.
"Truth is justice’s handmaid, freedom is its child, peace is its
companion, safety walks in its steps, and victory follows in its train" (Sidney
Smith, in Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol.1, p. 29)
IS IT FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED?
The issue as stake here is justice. Immediately we are faced with an
issue that is as difficult as that of truth. Human justice is always partial
justice. We never arrive at a perfect final justice. Power and pride always
stand in peril of becoming injustice. But, while justice is difficult, and
perhaps, in some instances impossible, we all know that we must continue to
honestly and intelligently seek for it. To accept injustice glibly, blindly, and
heartlessly is unacceptable. Where there is discrimination, disenfranchisement,
denial of basic human rights there must be an effort toward justice.
The difficulty arises when we think of the words "To All Concerned". This
country has been built on the principles of freedom and justice and fairness for
all. We have had to grow and struggle in our awareness of inequities and
unfairness. We fought a war over the issue of slavery. My father and my
grandfather were white slaves in the coalfields of West Virginia. They were
never free from the tyranny of the coal barons. Where there is injustice we must
seek a way to fairness and justice. All of us need to believe that and remember
it. Justice is a big order. All of our system of laws and courts are dedicated
to it. Joseph Jaubert said, "Justice is truth in action." That is what we want
to be. While finding it is difficult, looking for it is still necessary. Rotary
is committed to the cause of justice. When the courts are no honest the very
foundation of the United States is endangered. When the police are not honest
the whole system of law and order is endangered. When business leaders are not
honest the whole system of free enterprise is endangered. That is a danger from
within that we must always guard against.
WILL IT BUILD GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
The subject her is peace. Peace is what we want more than anything else. One writer said, "Peace is such a precious jewel that I would give anything for it but truth." Any kind of peace that is not based on truth and justice will not last. Have you noticed how these realities in the Four-Way Test blend together? There can be no peace without justice. There can be no peace without truth.
Peace is a serendipity-the gift of finding valuable things not sought for. We seek peace, we read books on peace, we pray for peace, and we do not find it, because peace is not something we get by seeking it. Peace is something we find as a surprise, as the result of something else. We must continue to work sincerely, honestly, diligently for a world of truth and justice and fairness for all concerned. That will help to build goodwill and better friendship. And one day, perhaps not as perfectly as we would like, we will surprised by peace. Peace is more than the cessation of war. Peace comes when relationships are made right. Peace comes from freedom, never from coercion. Of our own free will we need to come to a right relationship with the Creator and Sustainer of the universe-the cosmos-nature. We seek a right relationship with other human beings-we learn how to live and get along with others. We come to terms with ourselves, to make sure we are not split and scattered and going in many directions. We seek integration, wholeness and coherence within ourselves. The result of all this is peace. Rotary is a builder of goodwill and better friendships-right relationships-peace!
WILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED?
The issue here is community, our joining together in truth, justice and goodwill, for the sake of all. While that principle has international implications, and rightfully so, in this particular talk I want to speak about the nation-our nation. These are days when we are all feeling threatened. One of the terrorist’s most powerful weapons is war. We seem to realize that our very existence can be at stake. But these are days that we need to remember that democracy can survive powerful centrifugal pulls, if it has the centripetal pull of powerful forces to unite us and hold us together, speaking the same language, loving the same great literature, holding common memories of the same past, cherishing the same scale of moral values. If you want to keep our democracy together look to those factors.
When is the last century de Tocqueville, the Frech aristocrat, visited us, he expected to see democracy fail, and to his amazement he found it working. He put his finger on the central cause. These Americans, he said in effect, amid all the things that divide and estrange them, have great areas in common- a common spiritual tradition, a common faith, a common scale of moral values-and when they debate their differences, they debate them within the area of an undergirding and inclusive community of ideas and ideals. No attack on American democracy form without can ever wreck it unless within we forget how to say our-not my-our!
We are losing a lot of our unifying spiritual tradition in America. Here in this room we need to remember that while we differ about many things, most of us believe in the same God-Elohim and Yahweh are great Jewish words for the Creator and Sustainer of the universe; our Father, Our Lord, Our Savior are strong Christian words for the one God; Allah is the Arabic word for the same God-not a strange word from another religion, but the Arabic word for the same great God. Now that helps to hold us together. That togetherness, that community concept, is very important in these days.
At one Rotary International Convention, one speaker said "To endure, the competitive enterprise system must be practiced within the framework of a strict moral code. Indeed, the whole fabric of the capitalistic system rests to a large degree on trust."
Lawrence E. Mitchell of the George Washington University Law School, has written a book on "Corporate Responsibility: America’s Newest Export." He writes:
"The problem is as old and deep as human nature: what are two parties to do when they awaken to the fact that one cannot simply control the other, whether by fiat, threat or simple coercion? Stockholders cannot ensure that board members will not "self-deal"; corporate managers cannot protect themselves from the short-term greed of stockholders; the public cannot gain long-term responsibility from either board members or corporate managers without granting them long-term autonomy. They all face the always difficult question: what kind and degree of trust can they afford to extend to each other?" (Christian Century, March 17-April 3, 2002).
That is precisely where Rotary comes in: to encourage each of us, not merely to trust the other person, but to seek to become the kind of person who is worthy of trust. Law can help, but is cannot ultimately solve the problem. Only by encouraging us to become persons who are trustworthy can Rotary do that. And becoming that kind of person is a free choice each of us has the privilege to make.
Howard Thurman tells a story about his grandmother. Born a slave, she never learned to read or write, and several times a week she would ask Thurman to read to her from the Bible. But she hardly ever asked him to read from Paul’s letters. One day he finally asked why, and this was her answer:
During the days of slavery… the master’s minister would occasionally hold services for the slaves. Old man McGhee was so mean that he would not let a Negro minister preach to his slaves. Always the white minister used as his text something from Paul. At least three or four times a year he used as a text" "Slaves, be obedient to them that your masters…as unto Christ." Then he would go on to show how it was God’s will that we were slaves and how, if we were good and happy slaves, God would bless us. I promised my maker that if I ever learned to read and if freedom ever came, I would not read that part of the Bible. (Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited, 30-31).
There was something in the mind and heart of that sensible little slave woman that said, "This is not the truth. The Bible may say it, but it has been twisted to mean what the white preacher wants it to mean. It is not fair. It will not build goodwill and better friendships-the bloodiest war ever fought in the U. S. was over States Rights and slavery. It is not beneficial to all concerned." She would have made a great Rotarian.
Well, there it is, Ladies and Gentlemen, our community, our nation, our world, and Rotary’s Four-Way Test. What do you think of it?
The little girl was right. Perhaps we should turn around and go back, and help that gallant Lady hold aloft her light of liberty against the oncoming darkness.
A few final note of interest –
The sweetheart brunch (Saturday, February 8th) was a big success. Ken and Beverly Lever are to be thanked for doing such a "Boffo" job. Thank you. It was held at Typhoon at Santa Monica Airport. There were over 70 guests present dressed in outfits from the 40’s and 50’s. Some actually wore their regular clothes. The D. J. played "Cool" tones from the times. Old photos became a "Guess Who" contest. Boy, how we changed! Homer Newman, George Cox, Eloise Siskel and Ken Lever related personal war stories and Lennie Friedman led us in a sing-along. Thanks again to the organizing committee of Ken and Beverly Lever, Margie Downie, Ralph Woodworth, Sally Newman, and everyone who attended.
We send our prayers of thanks for the recovery of Jim Bechtel’s daughter Ellen.She is back and we all wish her a speedy recovery.
As a note rumors swirl that Ernie Wolfe is doing fine. He just moved and is a little preoccupied with organizing his sock and underwear drawer.
Y.Y.E #9; Elliott Turner for Y. O. E Ernie Wolfe