Is Truth Dead?

At least, that's what the current issue of TIME Magazine has screaming from their cover. The blood-red letters against the solid black background has an ominous effect.  I saw it as I was returning from a weekend business trip to Ontario, CA, and I found the timing of this issue more than a little coincidental.

See, I'm really focused right now on the topic of TRUTH.  I've been feverishly working on my latest book, Character Counts: Bringing the Rotary Four-Way Test to Life, and as many of you know, the first question in the Four-Way Test reads, "Is it the TRUTH?"  Character Counts is a deep-dive examination of the character building blocks that are embodied in each of the Questions in the Four-Way Test and the topic of truthfulness and trustworthiness is a crucial one in this study.

TIME's article is really about current President Donald Trump and his pattern of misleading statements, but it does bring us to question truthfulness as a whole.  Nancy Gibbs, TIME's editor, says in your column "Where is the line between lie, spin and delusion?"

It's an important question. What is considered TRUTH these days?  As I explored in the book, there is so much moral relativism in our society these days, is TRUTH a matter of perspective or is there something hard and firm we can all agree on that is TRUTH?

And this is where my discussions with other Rotarians has gotten interesting. I recently asked my Rotarian contacts, in their opinion, which of the four Questions in the Four-Way Test was the most important, and why?  (more…)

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Evaluating the “content of our character”

Martin Luther King speech dream content of characterMany of us know the epic words of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I have a dream..." speech.  It's probably the most famous of the many he made on the topic of civil rights and equality, and it's the one most frequently shown on media clips.  Most people know the "I have a dream..." part of the speech, but how many really know what comes after the popular soundbyte?  I think, today, on the day we remember him, it's appropriate that we stop and consider the message he shared.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Hopefully, we have made progress in judging based on color of skin -- although one could certainly argue that we are often as polarized by race today as we were nearly 50 years ago (but that's a topic best left for another day).

But, let's analyze the second part. If we are to be judged by the "content of [our] character," what does that mean for us today?  I think it's interesting to consider what Dr. King would see, were he alive today. What has happened to our individual -- not to mention, collective -- character? (more…)

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Character Counts – Rotary’s 4-Way Test in Action (Part II)

Several weeks ago, I embarked on the first of this two-part series of posts, which intended to show how Rotary International's 4-Way Test is mapped directly to key character traits...or social skills...necessary for personal and professional success. This is part of the presentation I do across the country, sharing the Rotary-specific version of my speech entitled "Overcoming Failure to Educate."

In the first post, I took a look at the first two statements of the 4-Way Test.  As a refresher, these are:

  • Is it the TRUTH?
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?

Today, I'd like to take a look under the hood of the second two statements, and see not only what character traits they represent, but also how they connect with the first two to form a cohesive whole.  As I recently had the opportunity to share with a fellow Rotarian, the statements of the 4-Way Test are not meant to be used as independent "factoids" for assessment.  While we might be able to evaluate one situation against the statement "Is it the TRUTH?" and come up with a "yes," it's also possible that something may be true, yet fail another statement such as "Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER friendships?" In that case, the situation, as a whole, will fail to pass the assessment of the 4-Way Test. (Want a quick example?'s one: your spouse asks you the immortal question "Does this outfit make me look fat?"  Depending on how you answer, you may be telling the TRUTH, but you can bet your bottom dollar that answer won't be building any GOODWILL, right? Not only does your answer fail the 4-Way Test, but it's an epic fail!)

Having established that, what say we go on to statements three and four? (more…)

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