Rotary Speech
Robert B. Ingram, Ph.D.

Hyatt Regency

Downtown Miami, Florida
Saturday, November 10, 2000 11:30 A.M,
by: Robert B. Ingram

I'm profoundly grateful to Elliot Lowenstien our District Governor, President of the Rotary Foundation Mr. Herb Brown, President of Rotary International and I am touched by the great distinction and honor and great compliment accorded me by the authorities of District 6990 today.

I'm overwhelmed, as a matter of fact, and I'm rather fearful of my inability to maintain such a high rating as you've been generous enough to accord to me.

In these lovely surroundings, this is a perfect day, and this is a very outstanding assembly. To me ROTARIAN are "SUPER-HEROES" so, it is a tremendously impressive thing for me to be standing before such an awesome crowd as your speaker for the hour.


I pray you notice that I called you "SUPER-HEROES" - TO ME THAT IS A FACT, AND LET ME TELL YOU WHY. As a child growing up Miami it was not uncommon to have known a Super-hero. In my neighborhood this Super-hero was usually a character from a comic book or movie screen -we did not have television back then. One of my favorite Super-heroes was


I chose Superman because of his ability to seemingly conquer the impossible. I was always fascinated by the opening words of the Saturday Movie Serials - that began with; "Faster than a speeding bullet/ More Powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buttings in a single bound. Look, up In the sky, it's a bird, a plane, No! it's Superman".

Yes, the Adventures of Superman cemented him as one of my heroes.
Maybe you will agree, that Super-heroes have a way of impacting on dimensions of joy, power, peace and victory regardless of circumstances.

I know that as a child I saw the Super-heros, as someone I wanted to emulate. Someone whose love of people challenged them to do things perhaps greater than their natural abilities would indicate.

The focus of my passion is that the Rotary Members assembled here and around the world today are new "Super-heroes" - real, not fictional. Super-heroes:

• Who are not restricted by our so-called "inabilities."
• Who are not confined by our "circumstances."
• Who are not frustrated by our "handicaps." And
• Who are not defeated by our "adversities."

Over the years, I learned that the idea of a Super-hero and the impact could be either positive or negative, on young and innocent minds.

So for a little while I want to focus on the Super-Heroes, the Rotary Leaders, that keep Rotary going by providing positive leadership that has impacted on past, present and will impact on generations yet unborn. Let me hasten to add, that I am not saying that ROTARY MEMBERS are perfect people - but we are people who are called to perfect mission.

People who called to intensify, integrate, instruct, and inspire our organizational membership to continue fulfilling our principles, "Service above self."


So successful is this principle that it ha been expanded to become one of the most widely printed and quoted statements of business ethics in the world, and that Is the Rotary 4-Way Test.

A test that was created by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor in
1932 - 168 years ago - when he was asked to take charge of a company that was facing bankruptcy. Taylor looked for a way to save the struggling company mired in depression-caused financial difficulties.

He drew up a 24-word code of ethics for all employees to follow in their business and professional lives.

The 4-Way Test became the guide for sales, production, advertising and all relations with dealers and customers, and the survival of the company · is credited to this simple philosophy.

In 1943 the 4-Way Test was adopted by Rotary International and it has been translated into more than a hundred languages and published in thousands of ways. Herb Taylor, many of you know, became president of Rotary International and served during the 1954-55 conference year.

From Herbert J. Taylor in 1943 to Elliot Lowenstien today, in the year 2000, we have experienced the pain of growth, but more importantly we have experienced the pleasure of progress - due to our Rotary Super-heroes, who often remind me of what a great world we live in. Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, a plane, No! it's a ROTARIAN".

ROTARIANS, we as a group, are unusually committed because we stand on a Foundational 4-Way Test and that test is this:


These are the four test I want to lift today - things that I want us to be aware of as we continue to provide leadership around the world.


Let's take a look at the first test: "IS IT THE TRUTH."

Too our Rotary Super-heroes you must help our communities to stop perpetuating the myth that everyone is entitled to one mistake. The TRUTH is, yes we all MAKE mistakes, but we are not licensed, we are not commissioned, nor are we entitled to make a mistake.

Let me share some information that I invite you to pass on - about a young man who appeared to believe he was entitled to make a mistake. Some of you may remember the story, it is a true one, about a young man named Len Bias.

Let me refresh the memory of some and inform others - Len Bias was a power forward Basketball player for the University of Maryland. Bias had been drafted by the Boston Celtics. He was going to be the "Man", who was going to get the Celtics back to the NBA championships. Bias was Six feet nine inches tall, two hundred twenty pounds, smooth as silk and fast as lightening.

He could handle the ball with the grace of a ballerina, he could shoot the ball with the accuracy of master rifleman, he could jump with the height of a African Impala, and he could dribble the ball with the magic of Harlem Globetrotter Marcus Haynes. Bias was a mass of unbridled energy! As Jimmy Walker from "Good Times" would say Bias was "DY- No-Mite!"

Len Bias was the first player taken out of the NBA draft picks several years ago. Then he had some folk he called friends, to come by to help him celebrate being the first player taken in the NBA draft. Unfortunately for Bias his so-called friends brought by a little crack cocaine with them.

Len Bias did a little crack cocaine, his heart exploded, and he was dead in a matter of minutes. Let me be clear, I have no idea whether or not Len Bias was into drugs as an addict. So what I say I have gleaned from the shadow of his death - it appears to me that Len Bias may have thought "I'm entitled to at least one mistake."

I've stopped by today to tell you the TRUTH - one mistake can be fatal. One mistake can cost you your life. Only the most uninterested, unresponsive, unsociable, uncarlng and unstable individual will miss the message that Len Bias' one mistake did not leave room for him to make another. With all his majesty, with all his splendor, with all his drive and with all his talent Bias was vulnerable to the thought that he was entitled to at least one mistake, and that one mistake cost him his life. In Florida the statistics for 1997 indicated that 149, 423 of our youth were arrested for crimes ranging from murder to marijuana 32, 935 came from right here in Broward and Dade Counties. Due to a deception that is causing us to lose this whole generation.

I've stopped by to invite YOU TO CONSIDER THAT ONE OF THE SEVEREST TEST OF CHARACTER IS ONE'S ABILITY TO SEEK THE TRUTH. Blaise Pascal remind us that "We arrive at the truth not by reason alone, but also by the heart." ROTARIANS we have many difficulties and obstacles to confront and overcome - that is if we are going to exemplify the 4-WAY TEST in the way we live and perhaps thc most cunning and deceiving element we must encounter is the perilous trap of deceptions. If we are nit careful deception will continue to creep into our lives and disrupt our plans, spoil our hopes, cool our enthusiasm, darken our days, and lengthen our burdens until we believe that our load is too heavy to bear. Oh my Rotary Super-heroes that is one of the reasons we must know and tell the truth. We must:

• Learn to admire without envy.
• Learn to follow without imitating.
• Learn to praise without flattery.
• Learn to lead without manipulating and
• Learn the TRUTH, because we are clear that the TRUTH will set us free. Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, a plane, No! it's a ROTARIAN who lives by the truth.



This one is the one that really gets too many us in trouble because so many of us live for ourselves and ourselves alone. Know these words of John Donne "No man is an island... "Rev. King said it this way; "We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny, what affects one directly affects all indirectly."

To me that is what makes ROTARY so important. You are Super-heroes with the ability to provide positive leadership that guide by example service activities that is FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED.

FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED. What a testimony. The words IS IT FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED ignites, for me: An obedient Heart; A disciplined Temperament and an enduring faith. You see when it is FAIR TO ALL,

It does not matter what color your skin is - FAIRNESS will see you through.

It does not matter what part of town you live in FAIRNESS will see you through.

It does not matter who your parents or your family relatives are FAIRNESS will see you through.

It does not matter what country you come from FAIRNESS will see you through. What others may say about you does not matter - rotary fairness WILL SEE YOU THROUGH. Look, up tn the sky, it's a bird, a plane, No! It's a ROTARIAN who is about the business of assuring that what he or she does is FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED.


The third test is this, and be careful that you understand this one. "WILL IT BUILD GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIPS"

To build Goodwill and Better Friendships requires that Each One Must Reach One. I am told that there are three kinds of people in this world: NUMBER ONE is the JAWBONE: People who talk a lot and do little. NUMBER TWO is the WISHBONE: People who wish that others would do what they ought to be doing themselves.
NUMBER THREE is the BACKBONE: People who get things done. Backbone People are Rotary's Super-heroes, and they are not overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that they must face. They realize that a journey of a thousand miles, begins with "One Step."

1) Our children are precious, teach one;
2) Our parents are needed, reach one;
3) Text books increase knowledge, read one;
4) Goals can be achieved, have one;
5) Philosophies inspire, create one;
6) Cultural partnerships create diversity, join one;
7) Obstacles are surmountable, move on;
8) Prejudice prevents growth, conquer one;
9) Contributions enhances opportunity, make one;
10) Networks are needed, build one;
11) Rotary Members are people of distinction, be one!

Our choices are simple: "We must do all the good we can, By all the means we can, In all the ways we can, In all the places we can.


You see, "I am only one, but I am one, /
I cannot do everything, /
But I can do something/
And by the grace of God/
What I can do -I will do!"
From behind the alter of eternity we hear the power of "One" in the words of
Dr. Benjamin Mays who reminds us that:
We only have one minute,
Only sixty seconds, in it,
Forced upon us,
We can't refuse It,
We didn't seek it,
We didn't choose it,
But it's up to us to use it,
Suffer if we lose it,
Give account if we abuse it,
It's just a tiny little minute,
But eternity is in it."

And in this minute, in this eternity, I will build goodwill and better friendships for Rotary Super-heroes have taught me that "It's nice to be important, but is more important to be nice" Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, a plane, No, it's a ROTARIAN, building goodwill and better friendships.


The fourth and final test is this A WILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED. We think, "This one is a piece of cake, I've got plenty of time for that." No you don't have plenty of time. The future belongs to those who plan for it today. Today is the first day of the rest of your life and I hope that you will start preparing right here and right now! When you seek to assure everyone's benefit -Your faith will never be shook up.

Your trust will never be betrayed.

YOUR confidence will never be misplaced.

your security will never be in danger.

Your efforts will never go unrewarded. My ROTARY SUPER-HEROES stay encouraged - hold on to the moral high ground that has the courage to reflect on the question "Is what I am about to do will be of benefit to all concerned?" Yes you may have to shed some tears sometimes.

You may have to make some apologies every now and then. You may have to adjust your attitude from time to time. You may have to smile when you don't feel like it.

You may have to listen to some insults - but if you know in your own heart that what you are doing is in accord with idea and the ideal that is it fair to all concerned - all of the trials and tribulations will be worth it.

Now is the time:

For shiftless folks, to pep-up,
For sleeping folks, to wake-up,
For gloomy folks, to cheer-up,
For angry folks, to make-up,
For bitter folks, to sweeten-up,
For lukewarm folks, to fire-up,
and For gossiping folks, to shut-up!!

Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, a plane, No, it's a "ROTARIAN" providing a service that is beneficial to all.


The challenge is this - just knowing the 4-WAY TEST and reciting it is not enough. You must also have the commitment to take the 4-Way Test and do something with it.

Being a ROTARIAN involves making the 4-WAY TEST come alive. We all know brilliant people who have a lot of book sense, but little common sense. That's not what a ROTARIAN is suppose to be like. A ROTARIAN marries the 4-WAY TEST with the skill needed to put it into practice.

This is important because there exist a THE PARADOX OF OUR TIMES Today we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers. Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families.

We have more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense.

We have more knowledge, but less judgement.

We have more experts, but more problems;

We have more medicine, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We have learned to make a living, but have not learned how to make a life.

We have added years to our life, but not life to our years.

We have been ali the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet our new neighbor.

We talk to much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

My friends Rev. Dr. King said it best, "We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or die together as fools."Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, a plane, No- it's a Rotarian not just looking good but doing good for humanity.. In summary, the four tests are simple:



As I take my seat let me share a personal lesson I extracted from a story about Michelangelo that I think relates to the four-way test.

Let me explain, the artist Michelangelo often stirred up the opposition of the contemporary artists of his day. Many of them envied his magnificent abilities. One particular example was the architect Bramante. Pope Julius retained Michelangelo to build him a splendid tomb, and Michelangelo gladly accepted the project and spent eight months in a marble pit personally cutting and selecting the most perfect stones. When he returned, he found the Pope had second thoughts. Bramante did not tell the truth, he lied, and turned Pope Julius against the project. The Pope canceled it.

Later the idea for another special project entered the Pope's mind. Bramante saw the project as a time consuming trap, NOT FAIR TO ALL CONCERNED, and one for which there would be little public recognition. Bramante recommended Michelangelo for that job. The great artist saw the trap. He knew what Bramante was up to. He wished to turn the project down but did not want to refuse the Pope's request. But then he pondered as to how he could ignite GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIPS and make his service BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED.

So Michelangelo went to work, in spite of the deception. He spent many years doing the slow and tedious labor the project required.

And what came out of his labor was the Sistine Chapel.

A chapel that is famous for its benefit to all. The inspiration that flowed through Michelangelo can likewise flow through all of us. That is what the 4-way test seeks to do. The 4-Way Test is the price we must pay for the membership role we occupy. Oh my friends, know this, the 4-Way Test cannot be stopped.

It is a living, powerful river that easily circumvents all obstacles. Michelangelo collected his inner forces for a complete victory. Likewise, we must not fear to face the trickery of some people and expose it for what it is. This is not negative, but intelligent protection and spiritual perception of our Rotary principles.

ROTARY MEMBERS, my SUPER-HEROES, know this - I am more convinced than ever that when we collect our inner forces to exercise the 4 way test it cannot help but create a wholesome environment for all people.

No mountain of indifference is too high,

No valley of opposition is too low,

No forests of resistance is too dense and

No water of antagonism is too deep to stop Rotary Super-heroes. You must push forward until our 4-way Test flows down like water and our service above self cascade like a mighty stream. Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, a plane, Not it's a Rotarian carrying us forward into the New Millennium."

In Rotary you need not be wealthy to be worthy.
You need not be affluent to be worthwhile.
All you need to do is serve.
Service will have you to:
Stand taller.
Think clearer.
Act saner.
Speak kinder, and
Help faster.

So I've stopped by to salute you Rotary Super-heroes and encourage you to keep up the good work:

Mount up with wings as eagles;
Run and don't get weary, walk and don't faint.
Yes, I have been around long enough to say with some degree of certainty, I have been young and now I am old and I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed beg for bread.

True, obstacles, may endure for THE NIGHT but if you stay focused on the four way test:


There will be JOY!
Unspeakable JOY!

Unbelievable JOY!
Undeniable JOY!

Unquestionable JOY!
Unassailable JOY!

Unbending JOY!
Unbridled JOY!

Unshakable JOY!
Undaunted JOY! JOY! JOY! JOY! In the morning!

To contact Dr. Ingram, please call 305-995-1340 or e-mail