Dateline: Saint George—Truth And A Hockey Puck

Feb 8, 2021

John Taylor's paper weight which reads: “Of the things we think, say or do: 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?”
Credit John Taylor

My blue hockey puck has two full-time jobs. It’s a paperweight for trash. It’s also a moral compass, guiding my day.

The puck isn’t slapshot material. It is a plastic memento of my service with the Rotary Club of Fresno, California. But what’s emblazoned inside is a reminder, no matter how messed-up the world gets, that honesty and honorable behavior are the North Star.

 

The puck lists the Rotary’s so-called “Four-Way Test.” The test is, in fact, a good-conduct pledge taken by millions of Rotary Club members worldwide, including numerous U.S. presidents, including Donald Trump.

 

Here’s what it says: “Of the things we think, say or do: 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?”

 

Can’t you hear the rebuttals: “That’s a nice thing to say, Pollyanna, but this is real life.” And, “Don’t forget, in God we trust. All others pay cash.”

 

I think about truth and trust, and “Mary Poppins” comes to mind. Most of us make too many piecrust promises. Vows easily made, easily broken.

 

Marriages and mortgages. God, family, flag and sports teams. We promise our love, credit rating and “good name” as though they were lottery scratchers.

 

We lubricate moral benchmarks with a convenient WD-40 of dishonesty and deception to make the truth to be what we want it to be. We shed then shred our commitments like the world had a confetti shortage.

 

When I moved to the big sky country of Utah in 2018, I did something unthinkable for a native New Yorker. I relied on word-of-mouth endorsements. And if a repairman or salesman promised something, I considered his word golden until it wasn’t. And I didn’t expect every task to be completed in a “New York minute.”

 

I also remembered my mother’s exhortation: If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.

 

And I choose to shun the dark autopsy of humanity given by the Harry Potter character Voldemort, who said: “There is no good and evil, there is only power and those too weak to seek it.”

 

There may be no immaculate good. But the Rotary puck test is a useful Fitbit to strengthen moral character– and good neighborliness.