Is it fair for all concerned? This particular sentence kept replaying itself in my mind. I kept thinking about the meaning of those six words as I heard Senator Lindsay Graham’s twisted reasoning for why he would rush through the confirmation hearings of a new Supreme Court justice prior to the 2020 elections. Chair of the Judiciary Committee, he blatantly broke his previous promise not to confirm a replacement Supreme Court Justice in an election year. In 2016, nine months before the election, he blocked the process of conducting a hearing for Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court Justice nomination, insisting it was too close to an election.
Now, just a few weeks before the Presidential election on November 3rd he is willing to expedite a hearing and vote for Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court Justice nomination in 2020. Instead of letting the American people decide, he and his cohorts have decided it is more important they seize the opportunity to confirm an ultra conservative judge aligned with their views. According to recent poll conducted by ABC News and The Washington Post on September 25th, 57% of the American public think otherwise. They would like the new Justice selected after the election.
Instead of the Senate addressing the important issues of a pandemic that has already taken the lives of 200,000 Americans and an unstable economy that leaves many homeless, hungry and without health insurance, majority leader Mitch McConnell would like to distract the public with a “quickie” Supreme Court Nomination.
“Is it fair for all concerned” is one of four components of the Rotary Club code of ethics. I know all four questions well, not because I’m a Rotarian, but because in 1999 my seven -year-old daughter Alex decorated a poster for an Annapolis Rotary Club contest. Interested in her project, I committed the Rotary four-way test to memory. The other three questions: Is it True? Will it build goodwill and friendships? Will it benefit all concerned? resonated as being sound moral guideposts to live by. Alex’s colorful poster was selected as one of the winners and she was invited to lunch with the Rotary Club. The four simple questions, stayed in my memory bank.
Over the past 20 years I have attended many Rotary events with my husband Peter, who became a member of the Parole Rotary Club in Maryland around the same time Alex participated in that poster contest. Always the meeting ends with a recitation of the four-way test. The four basic precepts: to always tell the truth, play fair, act in ways that will bring people together and benefit everyone have been part of the Rotary Club philosophy for close to 90 years. The code was created in 1932 by Herbert Taylor (a former Rotary president), originally to apply to professional ethics and practices during the Great Depression when businesses were struggling to survive, but it easily applies to community behavior as well. Adherence to these ethics define someone to me as a decent human being. However, politicians often conduct themselves by different standards. Many, such as Senators Graham, McConnell, Rubio, Cruz, Grassley, and Tillis don’t believe it is important to keep your word and consider the fairness of their actions.
Lindsay Graham, Mitch McConnell, Marc Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley, and Tom Tillis are popular guests at Rotary Clubs throughout their respective states. I’m not sure if they are Rotarians but I wonder if they’ve ever paid attention to the four-way test? Certainly their actions during the past few months have clearly shown their main preoccupation is with getting their own way. Is it fair for all concerned doesn’t seem to have entered into their thinking process. They’ve followed the cues of the orange haired man in the Oval office who believes that playing fair is only for suckers.
The current attitude is tell as many lies as you can get away with. So my question is, should civic groups who want to do good and serve the community, even invite politicians who lie, cheat, and clearly only want to promote their own interests to be speakers? Our country has become extremely polarized. I challenge the International Rotary Club with the motto of Service Above Self to consider vetting guests and speakers who clearly violate the four-way test. I also challenge all of us to reflect on our own actions in life. Are we capable of living by the four-way test?