By Mary-Justine Lanyon
(Photos by Mary-Justine Lanyon)
Each year the mountain Rotary clubs hold a speech contest for high school students based on Rotary’s 4-Way Test. The students are to apply the four principles to a topic of their choosing.
Those four principles are:
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
One student, Rim High freshman Nina Hidajat, spoke at the Lake Arrowhead Rotary Club about social media and its effect on body image. She noted it is true that social media affects the way we perceive our bodies, adding that 65 percent of men and 87 percent of women compare themselves to images shown on social media.
What social media has deemed beautiful, Nina said, is definitely not fair.
In the end, Nina said social media’s portrayal of body image fails three of the four principles. “It is a bad influence on the way we treat and view our bodies,” she said.
Two students – Rim High junior Evelyn Griggs and Lake Arrowhead Christian School senior TJ Roger – spoke at the Mountain Sunrise Rotary Club.
Evelyn applied the 4-Way Test to artificial intelligence, which she said can be problematic for the educational system and the arts. “Those with access to AI have an unfair advantage,” she said.
It’s true, she noted, that AI has positively affected society. But it is also true that is adversely affects humankind.
TJ took on the music industry. It’s true, he said that music can build human connections. But music has gone through many forms of distribution. The modern way of streaming music is not giving enough back to the artists, TJ said. There is a great deal of tension between artists and distributors – not building goodwill and better friendships.
He urged the Rotarians to diversify their music tastes – “even if you don’t like it, thank you for giving them a chance,” he said. But we must be willing to pay extra for our streaming services. “As a society, we are willing to pay $3.50 for a cup of coffee. Why are we not willing to give the artists a chance?”
Two students also spoke at the Crestline-Lake Gregory Rotary Club: Rim High junior Diane Zhang and Lake Arrowhead Christian School junior Johanna Nicolaisen.
Diane applied the 4-Way Test to the blood diamond industry, which she said has a “long-concealed history of human rights abuse and child labor.” Is there a solution? Diane suggested synthetic lab diamonds, which she said are visually identical to natural diamonds – at a lower price with without human rights violations.
“I can think of no better way to build good will in the diamond industry than to eliminate these practices,” she said.
“What is your greatest fear?” Johanna asked – spiders, being bullied, getting sick? Her greatest fear is failure, imperfection, seeing disappointment in loved ones’ eyes. “I go about my day fearing making mistakes. My mind is never on the task at hand but on what could go wrong,” she said.
She runs cross country and worries about tripping or getting tired. “Eventually those ‘what ifs’ turn into ‘you wills,’” Johanna said.
There is a certain benefit to being afraid of making a mistake, she noted. “You want the airplane pilot to be afraid of hitting the wrong switch. Success in some areas is guarded by healthy amounts of fear. It’s OK to be cautious but, if you are fearful, you can be scared into inaction.”
But, by failing, Johanna said, “we build strength and innovation. I challenge you as I have challenged myself: Don’t retreat into your fears. Try again, as many times as you need to. Go out and make mistakes.”
Nina, TJ and Johanna were all awarded first place in their contests and will advance to the district-level 4-Way Test speech contest this Saturday, April 22.