The Four Way Test and Me by Ryan Brennan

The Rotary Club of Pismo Beach / Five Cites
Ryan Brennan, Second Place
Grade 9,  Coastal Christian School
Teacher: Mrs. Limon

Throughout our daily lives a myriad of decisions, motivations, actions and thoughts write our story. Whether you choose to attend college or try out for the baseball team every choice that is made will contribute to the outcome of your life. Every person will face numerous unique obstacles and how they respond to them will affect their future. As one travels the treacherous journey of life it is difficult to hurdle problems without some sort of constructive guideline to illuminate situations and to pave a path with clarity. The Four Way Test is a constructive standard to analyze actions of yourself and others to gain a new perspective in light of these questions: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

The first question asks is it the truth? Many circumstances are diluted and blurred by opinions or false witnesses and it is difficult to untangle the situation honestly and with genuine truth at the core. When these circumstances come up one must look at it through the lens of truth which requires an unbiased mindset that will not be swayed by the majority or the most attractive option. Also, to gain this perspective it is vital to have a foundation in ethics and virtues in order so that when you are determining the verdict you will have morals to draw upon that will shed light on the correct choice. This mindset prepares you so when confronted by unclear incidents one is equipped with the tools necessary to clearly deduce the solution.

The next question asks is it fair to all concerned? Another way to say this is, is this other persons actions or mine impartial and unprejudiced to everyone concerned? Do my actions and words change for certain people? A different word for a person who treats people differently because of their abnormalities is a bully. This could include gossip, physical abuse, verbal abuse, or even cyber bullying. For  one in seven students, from kindergarten to high school seniors, is either a bully or a victim of bullying and 71% of students have witnessed bullying in their own schools. So is it fair to bully? Absolutely not! To downgrade another human being is wrong and unjust. This crooked practice is growing and although it is become popular to pick on certain students because they are different this should not be tolerated. Bullying can result in suicide, drop out of school and permanent emotional trauma. To avoid these attitudes people can talk fairly and respond to everyone fairly regardless of their color or if they need glasses or not, so when approaching possibly unfair situations ignore all appearance or background to avoid partiality and come out with fair outcomes.

Thirdly, the question is will it build good will and better friendships? Before taking risky actions see from the other persons point of view. Atticus Finch, from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, puts it this way, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus is saying that you have to change how you look at the world in order to understand where the other person is coming from. If someone wants to build goodwill and better friendships they must first discard all selfishness and generously see through the others eyes. Building good will should be motivated for others benefit. A significant factor in relationships is words. Think of your entire life so far and who you have met, then think what did you said to them? Did it strengthen your friendship, or tear it down? Words are powerful and is a window into a persons heart and motives. With everyday conversing it is important to be aware of every idle word spoken out of your mouth. A conversation can change someone’s life for the better or the worst. Is what I am saying building goodwill and better friendships?

The last question is will it be beneficial to all concerned? Something beneficial is rarely what someone wants, it is what will benefit them most, not give them the most pleasure or entertainment. A beneficial decision for what someone needs will pay off in the end without a doubt. Also the question asks is it beneficial to all concerned? Meaning will it benefit everyone in the situation, not just the most important or the one that it will effect most. Benefiting someone means to pour opportunities on others for them to succeed  and shine. Ask this question when surrounded by others that have particular want, will it be beneficial for them to have it? This question resolves the issue of selfishness in that it will force a person the realize the best for everyone not just themselves.

The Four Way Test contains eye opening questions that support morals and result in a successful decision making. All the individual questions compliment each other forming a constructive guideline that provides a simple way of wise problem solving and can be utilized in every circumstance to light the right paths. Any hardship or drawback can be overcome by The Four Way Test that will aid you to get back on track.

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