Bridge-builders honoured for integrity

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, April 11, 2019

The Four Way Test of the things we think, say and do: 1. Is it the TRUTH? 2. Is it FAIR to all concerned? 3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? 4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Two recent developments celebrate the importance of integrity in the life of our community. The one involves a role model for me as a columnist. The other involves you, our coffee companions. Both developments are informed by what I regard as the four pillars of building bridges of community: Rotary’s Four Way Test.

“Integrity” is an interesting word with two overlapping dimensions. On the individual level, it refers to a person’s adherence to high moral principles in word and deed; honesty. On the structural level, it refers to the wholeness made possible by the dependable relationship among the components. From a community perspective, such wholeness is possible only when the individuals within the community themselves have integrity.

This is where Rotary’s Four Way Test enters the scene. I see the service organization’s moral model for behaviour in business as a standard for all aspects of life and community development: “Of the things we think, say and do: 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” (See Martin Parnell’s outstanding column on the history of Rotary’s Four Way Test in last week’s Eagle.)

These four tests are like reliable pillars that support a bridge.

Which brings me to the first exciting development. Just this week Cochrane Town Council voted unanimously to name our new bridge across the Bow River at the east end of town, scheduled to open next year, the Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge.

The choice of the name honours one of my personal heroes, the founder of the Cochrane Eagle and community builder Jack Tennant. Jack passed away last year, leaving a legacy of bridges of goodwill and better friendships that he’d built up and down our valley, and especially between Cochrane and the Stoney Nakoda First Nation to the west.

The second – and totally unexpected – development was the Rotary Club of Cochrane’s selection of my wife Mary Anna and me as recipients of their Rotary Integrity Award for 2018. (See Jake Cressy’s article in last week’s Eagle.)

Apparently, these columns were very much part of their decision. As Rotary’s Past President Martin Parnell, himself the Integrity Award recipient for 2010, said in nominating us, “In his weekly column, he spreads the word of peace, compassion, love and understanding.”

Mary Anna and I are profoundly grateful for this honour. Yes, these columns strive to be a bridge of understanding and appreciation built on Rotary’s four worthy pillars. But we must stress that our role is merely as storytellers and photo essayists entrusted with your words and wisdom.

So, it’s really on behalf of you who have shared so much beauty across the bridge of these columns that we accept the award. And here I must pay special tribute to last year’s recipient, Elder Tina Fox Poucette, of Morley, and retired Judge John Reilly, recipient for 1999, who, like Jack Tennant, have been mentors and models to me of what Rotary’s Four Way Test is truly all about.

I’ll close with words from the Bible that, like the Test, have also long guided me in the pursuit of integrity:

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable,  if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).


© 2019 Warren Harbeck

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