Four-Way Test

We constantly feel the need to take action, but what action?
Every day, and in every direction, we can look around and see a lot of things that need to be done, many actions that need to be taken. A suffering child, a mother without means to protect her children, an impoverished man or woman on the street, teachers without adequate classrooms and students without books, working men and women without health insurance sitting in crowed hospital emergency rooms, elderly people without the warmth of a stove or the warmth of human caring– all this and so much more demands our attention. So many things in our immediate community, in our country, on our earth  urgently demand our action. The focus is on action, but what action. There must always be acts of choice which determine the paths we follow.
The FOUR-WAY-TEST is a set of rules that illuminates action, action that is supposed to be good and wise. One might say that the FOUR-WAY-TEST constitutes the rules that join action to wisdom. Wisdom’s first rule is seek the truth. I might say to you, alternatively, test for truth. Before you can act wisely, you must test the truth of the proposition that requires your action.
Is it true that the children for whom you collect christmas gifts need toys? Perhaps they urgently need food, or do they need shelter from violence in their community, even their own homes. And not only must you test for truth, you must follow wisdom’s second rule which is test for fairness. Action must lead to equity. Balance must be recognized. Is it fair to offer a scholarship without providing and following the rules of competition? To reward capriciously is to risk violating fairness. Equal opportunity is the  path of fairness.
So, we must test for fairness as well as truth. We need to know if the action will be fair to all concerned. And this leads to the third rule of wisdom which is test for benefit. Is there benefit to all concerned?  Moral benefit, economic benefit, cultural benefit?
We must not only test for truth and fairness, but who will benefit from the consequences of the action? What of fair selection, given equal opportunity? How far do concern and involvement reach if all who of those who are concerned are to benefit? The number of people who benefit theoretically from a school play production far exceeds the number of young people who can realistically try out for the school basketball team and benefit from participation in this sport. I enjoy sports, but one can point out that atheltics is by and large a vicarious experience. Life is not a vicarious experience. The test for benefit must consider whether or not the benefit is real or substitute.
And finally, the fourth rule of wisdom addresses the sense of community. Does the action lead to a common ground of being? Do we all feel part of the community after the action is complete. Have we practiced exclusive principles, or have we practiced inclusive principles.
Perhaps you recognize that what we are talking about is a lot like sportsmanlike conduct. Players of the Game are expected to agree on the rules, that is, agree to the truth; players expect to be treated fairly, that is, the rules are applied with equity; players expect to benefit from fair and honest competition according to their abilities; and players are on the same ground of being, that is ,they are all competitors in the same game. Too bad the pageants of our professional sports spectaculars aren’t good examples of exemplary human beings.
If this sounds like a complete guide to wisdom, let me remind you of what the Nazis believed to be true: it was fair that all Germans should benefit from being members of the community of the Master Race.
I think you will agree that there is another condition, another rule which we must apply; a fifth rule which must guide all of our considerations, one which we have to use before we can apply the FOUR-WAY-TEST successfully. We must exchange places with the other person. That is, we must be able to recognize their truth as our own, their fairness, their benefit, their sense of community. We must be able to do all of this without necessarily adopting their point of view.

That recognition of “other truth” is essential, also, in drafting a definition of “service above self”. I can’t imagine needing to say this to an audience of women. Women may not know all about the four way test of truth, fairness, benefit, and community, but they do know about service above self. Being a partner to the creation of new life out of one’s own material self is certainly service above self.

Perspectives on Shipyard Operations

It’s easy to believe that some industries run without rules and regulations. Shipyards have particularly difficult conditions to satisfy. In my experience, the shipyards I’ve been on are quite environmentally conscious, perhaps for a variety of reasons. Before rushing out to criticize anyone, read this document which will give you some perspective on a few problems in the maritime industry.

Download this PDF file and study the implications: [download id=”1″]

Thames River Project

The problem:

The Thames barrier was erected in 1989 to provide flood control to the upper reaches of the Thames River including the heavily populated areas of London. The gates could be raised from the riverbed into a vertical defense position in the event high surge tides threatened the London metropolitan area.

In October of 1997 a sand dredger, the Sand Kite, wrecked into one of the main gates of the Thames barrier. The ship was damaged and dumped its load of sand and aggregate, then sank onto the gate where it sat for several days atop its load. This caused paint failure and premature corrosion on the flat face of the gate. The failure of this gate could have had potentially disastrous effects on London, with flooding damage estimated at UK$21 Billion and extensive loss of life.

The UK’s Environment Agency had several requirements for the any repairs that were undertaken on the damaged gate. The barrier gate could not be taken out of service and had to be able to be closed at any time with a 1-hour notice to the cleaning contractor. In addition, there could be no environmental pollution or potential release into the environment during the surface preparation procedures. The twice-daily 21-foot tides and heavily traveled river created logistics problems for any repair to the gates. Because of these constraints any surface preparation that required stationary staging was rejected.

The solution:

The remotely controlled, vacuum attached JetTractm system provided by UHP Projects, Inc. was used to clean and prepare the surface of the gate for recoating. This system uses Ultra High Pressure (40,000 PSI) waterjets to strip the coatings from the surface. A patented seal allows the remote JetTractm crawler to attach itself to the gate using vacuum supplied by a remote vacuum skid. The paint and water is completely contained in a vacuum shroud and removed down a hose to a vacuum system located on a barge. The JetTractm crawler is remotely controlled and can move in any direction in both the horizontal and vertical positions as well as overhead.