Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"Service Above Self"

"Service Above Self" is one of the most powerful commitments of the Rotary International. Yesterday, Escondido Rotarians gave two standing ovations to Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a politician who has chosen to place self-aggrandizement above service.

I agree completely that Congressman Cunningham deserves to be given the benefit of the doubt regarding the legality of his various financial dealings. But, I also agree with John Van Doorn, who writes in today's North County Times that "Silence sounds like Guilt" in regards to Congressman Cunningham.

Considering the swirl of allegations, the FBI raids, the almost daily newspaper stories outlining highly questionable and ethically challenged personal business dealing by Congressman Cunningham, how could a community service group that "encourages high ethical standards in all vocations" embrace the Duke so wholeheartedly?

While Escondido Rotarians were cheering Congressman Cunningham, did any of them think about applying the Rotary's "Four-Way Test" to Cunningham's recent dealings?

From the earliest days of the organization, Rotarians were concerned with promoting high ethical standards in their professional lives. One of the world's most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics is The Four-Way Test, which was created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor.

The four questions on Mr. Taylor's test are:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"

I would think that before allowing Congressman Cunningham to speak, the Escondido Rotary would have asked him to take this test regarding his dealing with Mitchell Wade and Thomas T. Kontogiannis. Maybe then the ovations would have been a bit more subdued.