Posted by Catherine Ibrahim
on Oct 09, 2015
Rotarians are a group of business and professional people that come together to promote the ideal of service in their personal, vocational, and community endeavors. The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. It is not the business of business that brings us together as Rotarians, but the business of Service.
We are Rotarians because we have committed to “Service Above Self”. Fellowship and service to humanity frees Rotarians from the trap Paul Harris (PH) called the “love of things”. According to PH, life is more than business. As Rotarians from diverse, ethnic, professional, religious, and sociocultural backgrounds, we have found a common platform in the ideals of Rotary.
The weekly club fellowship enhances opportunities for creating and fostering friendships while we serve our communities. For example, Saket Gadkari of Rotary Club of Thane Hills, Maharashtra, India stated “I sat down and figured out how much time I was donating, and how much more effective it would be as part of a club instead of doing it all myself. I joined for the service and stay for all the friends I’ve made. It’s nice to travel and instantly have friends wherever I go”.
The Four-Way Test is the cornerstone of all action. Of the things we think, say or do
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
This ethical test lies at the heart of our credibility as Rotarians. We must practice our professions with integrity, and inspire others to behave morally through our own words and actions. The object of rotary is significantly promoted as Rotarians when we encourage and foster:
FIRST: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
SECOND: High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
THIRD: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
FOURTH: The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
Rotarians promote international goodwill and understanding with other peoples of the world. Programs such as Group Study Exchange (GSE) provide opportunities for building international friendships and goodwill. The GSE was a game-changer for Jennifer Jacobson, a police constable in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada who took part in a Rotary-sponsored Group Study Exchange (GSE) to Japan in 2009 after reading a post by a colleague and former participant. She affirmed, “It was a life-changing experience, absolutely fantastic”.
The importance of international service is crucial in promoting world peace. Nicholas Thompson of Rotary Club of Stockholm International, Sweden declared, “I joined Rotary after having been involved in a post-tsunami project in Sri Lanka in 2005. This was the first contact I had had with a Rotary club, and I was so impressed by the dedication of its members in their efforts to help others that I immediately applied to join my club in Stockholm when I arrived back in Sweden”. Paul Harris in his message to the Boston 1933 convention declared “the friendships of many men (and I will add women since women were not in Rotary when Paul made the statement) of many countries have made me more than a millionaire”.
A Rotary Action Group an autonomous group of Rotarians, family members, program participants and alumni who are experts in a particular field, such as microcredit or water and sanitation. The actions of Rotarians and their families and friends are instrumental to a successful implementation of community projects by action groups. According to information on its website, various groups such the “Rotarian Action Group for Population Growth & Sustainable Development helps local communities achieve their development objectives. For example, the group collaborated with Rotary clubs in Germany, Austria, and Nigeria to reduce maternal death by 50 percent at 10 hospitals in northern Nigeria with a program to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, a serious birth injury”. In addition, “Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention and Rotary club members from Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda sponsored a three-day event to provide HIV testing and counseling for more than 138,000 people”. Disaster Network of Assistance Rotarian Action Group (DNA RAG) develops an interactive network to assist with disaster preparedness, communication, and recovery at an international level. Please follow the link for more information about the program https://www.rotary.org/myrotary/en/take-action/empower-leaders/join-rotarian-action-group.
Membership growth and development are critical to sustaining our club. Rotary information is vital to membership development. The Internet is a crucial source of rotary information and history. Rotarians, rotary friends, and non-Rotarians can access archived editions of “The Rotarian magazine”. The earliest magazine known as “The National Rotarian” published between Jan 1911 to Aug 1912 changed to its current name “The Rotarian” in Sep 1912. All past editions from 1911 to June 2011 are accessible through this link
As we continue to ensure the effectiveness of our rotary clubs, promote vocational excellence, enhance community service, and promote international projects and friendships, we must also develop our youths who are the future of rotary. Programs that target youth development such as Interact and Rotaract clubs provide opportunities for Rotarian mentorship of youths in the community. Youth programs such as Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) provide great opportunities for community enhancement through youth development.
We must position our clubs to participate actively when the need arises locally or globally. Rotarians have played pivotal roles in supporting victims of the South Asian tsunami in 2004, Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Pakistan floods, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the 2013 Philippines typhoon. Rotarians have shown reliability and sacrifice in providing relief disaster victims. According to Paul Harris, Rotarians are exemplary people because, in everything, we think, say, or do, “Service Above Self” motivate us.