March 2008 RI President Wilf's Message

Dear fellow Rotarians, Mohandas Gandhi once said, "If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children."

What Gandhi understood so well was simply this: that anger and hatred, arguments and differences, rivalries and quarrels are not inherited or innate. They are learned. Children who see hate, learn hate. But children who see sharing and love, learn sharing and love.

The way things have always been is not necessarily the way they will always be. For better or for worse, almost any status quo can eventually change. When there is a new threat to be faced, people can be divided by it and fight each other, or they can come together and work together and find a solution to their problems together. Every new challenge has the power to divide – and the power to unite.

In a world of change, Rotary must be the constant. And in a world of increasing needs, Rotary must keep pace by making sure that we have the strength and the numbers to do what needs to be done.

In this Rotary year, I have asked Rotarians everywhere to focus on sharing Rotary through membership. It is time to evaluate where we are in this task. Have we all invited a potential new member to a meeting? If we've succeeded in bringing in a qualified new member, are we helping that member to grow and succeed in Rotary?

Rotary can only continue to serve if it continues to grow. Simply maintaining our membership at current levels will not be enough. As the world's population and its needs continue to rise, we too must rise to the challenge they present.

We must show the world that Service Above Self is more than just a motto, and Rotary Shares more than just a theme. These words are our truth – a truth that defines us, and all of Rotary.

Many decades ago now, Gandhi – who I think would have made a very good Rotarian – said something else that resonates with us as Rotarians: "Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow men."

Each of us has the opportunity to become great through our Rotary service. Let us all be sure that this is an opportunity that we seize. - Wilfrid J. (Wilf) Wilkinson , President, Rotary International

Webmaster comments: Read our blog journal of how we "began with the children in India" on an amazing humanitarian visit where we inaugurated a Girls/Women Vocational Training Center - 'Gurukulum'... a life-changing experience.


Share your thoughts, in approximately 100 words, on Wilf's message - "it begins with the children" and receive a makeup

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