The Moral Dilemma by Kimi White

The Rotary Club of Pismo Beach / Five Cites
Kimi White, First Place
Grade 8,  Paulding Middle
Teacher: Mrs. Fahey

The Rotary’s 4 way test is a tool I have used many times to help me figure out the best road to take in challenging situations. It asks four basic questions, first is it truthful, second is it fair to all concerned, third will it build goodwill and better friendships and lastly four, will it be beneficial to all concerned. This powerful test has helped me deal with bullies, friends and many uneasy situations. Every time I have asked myself these four simple questions, my path becomes clear.

Yesterday started out like a normal day. I woke up, went to school, did my homework and took my dog, Lady, for her daily walk. We had only been gone for about twenty minutes when I noticed a wallet on the ground. It was a man’s wallet and it was heavy. It had loads of credit cards, his driver’s license and to my surprise, money. Not just a little money either. It had about $90 in it. I could not believe that it was just laying there half in and half out of the gutter. I looked around and realized that Lady and I were alone. If I picked it up and took it home, no one would even know. At first, I was somewhat excited because I don’t see that kind of money every day. For a split second, I thought of different ways I could spend it, but then something inside of me snapped. It was as if I had woken up suddenly. It wasn’t mine. I knew I couldn‘t keep it. Some people would say that it was my conscience telling me that I could not keep it but I know the Rotary’s 4 way test guided me to do the right thing.

Is it truthful? To keep it would have been wrong. True, I did find it. Some would even utter the phrase “finders’ keepers, loser’s weepers”. However, I knew that it wasn’t mine and that I could not keep something that belonged to someone else, no matter how tempting. If I had kept the wallet and taken the money then that would be stealing and stealing is the furthest thing from the truth. I don’t think I could have lived with myself knowing that I was spending money that I did not earn. As the Bible says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” John 8:32.

Secondly, is it fair to all concerned? As proclaimed by philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero, “According to the law of nature it is only fair that no one should become richer through damages and injuries suffered by another.” Therefore, this is an easy question to answer. It is not fair to all concerned to keep something that is not mine and that I had not earned. I have earned money on my own and I know the satisfaction of spending it. It is like a reward for my hard work and it feels great. On the flipside, I have also lost money and know firsthand how heartbreaking it can be. I couldn’t imagine losing $90. It is decisions that we make when no one is looking that show the genuine nature of our character.

Next, will it build goodwill and better friendships? I don’t have to think about this question long because I know the only way to foster goodwill and build friendships is through honesty and integrity. My dad says that if you don’t have those two things then you really have nothing. Goodwill is found when consideration is shown for others and their property. If I returned the wallet then the owner would know that someone respected their belongings and that would build trust and true friendship.

Lastly and most importantly, is it beneficial to all concerned? Beneficial means resulting in good. It is beneficial to all concerned only if I return the wallet and the money to its rightful owner. The true owner benefits by getting his possessions back and he gains a better view of the world and its inhabitants. It reinforces the belief that there are good people in the world who know right from wrong and more importantly will act upon that knowledge.

These rules helped me make my decision to return the wallet. I did not do it so others could know that I did it but I did it because it was the honest thing to do. I am thankful that I have the Rotary 4way test because it has helped shape my actions on a number of occasions. It is the feeling of doing something that is for the good of society that I want to share with others. I cut our walk short that day but with the help of my parents, I was able to locate the owner. My dad and I returned the wallet, and most importantly, all of the money that was in it.

When you live your life according to the rules of the Rotary 4 way test, one learns valuable lessons that are based on honesty, compassion and courage. Positive moral values are important because they allow you to have an overall feeling of peace and joy. Moral values can give meaning and purpose to your life. You are able to direct your behavior towards beneficial and fulfilling activities. Returning that which has been lost or misplaced to the rightful owner is doing the right thing. In addition, you benefit from knowing that your conscience is clear and you’ve helped a fellow human being. “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.” Albert Pine, English author.

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