Every Rotarian is given the challenge to guide all his actions by a four-way test: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
I have been considering, especially in recent years, how great Bahamian society would be if every Bahamian would accept that same challenge.
Unfortunately, so many infractions are considered so minor as to be accepted as a challenge, such as trying every trick to avoid "paying unto Caesar" after a trip abroad, and so many of these same people can be found warming the pews in their church every Sunday. Then there are so many of these "minor" infractions that it becomes "acceptable" to move into more serious ones.
There was the lawyer who decided one day that he no longer wanted to be an associate and left with a suitcase full of files to be used for the solicitation of clients in another firm.
Some may hesitate to refer to that action as "stealing" but as the saying goes, "If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck..."
This is not a "privilege" just for lawyers and I would speculate that a survey of accounting firms, realtors, medical and dental practices, etc. would provide a disturbing list of those persons who would have failed that Rotary test.
The "in thing" in The Bahamas now is for an employee to find some reason, often invalid and frivolous, to take their former employer to the Labour Board. I give the example of an employee at a private school who was stealing the tuition funds. Her guilt was proven, she was dismissed and yet she still took the school to the Labour Board. Most people who take this action do so just hoping that their lawyer is more versed in the law than the opposing lawyer. The final example, and there are many, is the gardener whose work ethic was very poor and he asked his employer to fire him so he could take him to the Labour Board.
On a personal note, when I started the practice of dentistry I was proud to have as colleagues Drs. Paul Albury, Norman Cove, John Louis, Cyril Vanderpool, Cleve Eneas, Ray Sawyer and Hal Leyland, all men of sterling character. There was no thought of needing a code of ethics, our word was our bond.
At a local sailing club there is a sign posted for the youngsters in the sailing program which states, "If you have won the race but have lost the respect of your competitors, you have won nothing."
It is a sad commentary on our society when young people can learn that maxim, yet so many adults in the same society avoid the tenets of discipline necessary in business and the professions, and there is almost a general acceptance of their improprieties and their violation of the code of ethics.
This is all symptomatic of an ominous trend, as if the country has lost its moral compass. Yes, we have all made mistakes and occasionally taken a wrong turn, but it is time to find our way again.
It all speaks to honesty, integrity and character, a road less traveled by many these days.
- Sidney T. Sweeting, DDS
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