Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka's February 2013 Message
RI President's Message - February 2013
Dear fellow Rotarians,
In December, I spoke at the first of the three Rotary Global Peace Forums we have planned for this Rotary year. This first event, with the theme "Peace Without Borders," was held in Berlin, the home of the Berlin Peace Clock. The clock, intended as a piece of art, is 3 meters high and weighs over 2 tons. On its side are inscribed the words, Time bursts all walls asunder.
The clock was unveiled on 9 November 1989. That was the day the Berlin Wall fell. It was a wonderful coincidence that the moment the hands on the clock began to move, the orders were given to open the border to West Berlin. The words written on the side of the clock had come true.
In Rotary, we do not divide our work by nation, culture, or language. It does not matter what is printed in your passport. What matters is that you believe in Service Above Self. But even in Rotary, it is easy to think in terms of countries or communities. This project may help someone in my own community, or that project may help someone from Germany, or Kenya, or South Africa. Sometimes we think of different types of borders. This project, we think, helps the young. This helps the elderly. This helps people who are hungry, poor, or sick, or who have disabilities.
The truth is that Service Above Self does not know such borders. When we serve, the impact is not limited to our community, or the community we are helping. We are not only helping the young, or the elderly, or this school, or that orphanage. When we serve, we are helping all of humanity. The effects of what we do go on and on.
When we put Service Above Self, we are making a choice. We are choosing to put other people's needs ahead of our own desires. We are saying, "Your problems are my problems, and I care enough to help you."
Rotary brings peace by addressing the needs that cause conflict: the need for clean water, for nutrition, sanitation, and health care. When these needs are met, there is opportunity. And there is hope. Hope has no borders. It is the garden from which peace can grow.
Peace Through Service brings out the best in us. It makes us aware of the borders we set up around ourselves – and it helps us tear them down.
Trustee chair's message - February 2013
Help Build Peace in the World:
Rotary was built upon the idea of advancing goodwill and understanding – it's in our mission, and part of everything we do. The Rotary Foundation has six areas of focus, each of which is important. But every one of them depends on peace in the world. We can't celebrate the World Day of Social Justice on 20 February unless we have peace. We can't really celebrate World Understanding and Peace Day on 23 February, which also marks Rotary's 108th year of existence, unless we can say that we are working for peace.
There are endless ways to help build peace in our world, through our clubs and through our Foundation. The polio eradication initiative, as the largest global public health initiative in history, is doing a tremendous amount to promote peace – by building partnerships between the public and private sectors, by improving health infrastructure and monitoring the poorest areas, and by making it clear to all that we cannot have a healthy world if even one child is forgotten.
Peace comes from sharing, and as many of you know, Rotary Shares is my personal answer to what each Rotarian should be doing. This month, which we celebrate in Rotary as World Understanding Month, the efforts of every district, club, and Rotarian should be directed toward doing something for peace.
Wilfrid J. Wilkinson
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Rotary eClub NY1 * Updated 2013