Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka's May 2013 Message
Dear fellow Rotarians,
RFrom the moment I was nominated as Rotary International president, I knew I would choose a theme that would focus on peace. This is why I planned three peace forums – to give Rotarians an opportunity to think about peace, to talk about peace, and to share their ideas on building peace together. The final Rotary Global Peace Forum takes place this month in Hiroshima, Japan.
We hear the word peace every day. But most of us spend little time thinking about what peace is. On its simplest level, we can define peace by what it is not. It is a state of no war, no violence, and no fear. It means that you are not in danger of hunger, or persecution, or the suffering of poverty.
But we can also define peace by what it is, and by what it can be. Peace can mean freedom of thought and of speech, freedom of opinion and of choice, and the ability for self-determination. It can mean security, confidence in the future – a life and home in a stable society. On a more abstract level, peace can mean a sense of happiness, of inner serenity, of calm.
However we use the word, however we understand peace, Rotary can help us to achieve it. Rotary helps us to meet the basic needs of others – to provide health care, sanitation, food, and education when and where they are most needed. It helps to meet the inner needs as well, for friendship, connection, and caring. And Rotary helps us to build peace in its most traditional sense, by reducing the causes of conflict. It builds bridges of friendship and tolerance among people and nations. It helps us to understand one another.
However we define peace, whatever peace means to us, we can bring it closer through service. Peace, in all of the ways that we can understand it, is a real goal, and a realistic goal for Rotary. Peace is not something that can only be achieved through treaties, by governments, or through heroic struggles. It is something that we can find, and that we can achieve – every day, and in many simple ways.
And so I thank you for your commitment to Peace Through Service – and to a Rotary goal of a more peaceful world.
In Canada, May is usually a beautiful month. Spring has blossomed, trees and flowers are in bloom, and everyone is filled with a renewed energy as winter finally comes to a close. The changing of seasons can also serve as a time for action as Rotarians bring a fresh perspective to the goals they set for the 2012-13 year.
Every Rotarian, every contribution, and every project makes a difference every year. Through The Rotary Foundation, we can all do our part to work toward global peace from the ground up. Has your club worked on a humanitarian or educational project through the Foundation? And if not – why not?
There is still time to make your contribution. There is still time to give a community the chance to drink clean water, a young girl the opportunity to attend school, and a mother the access to the safe maternal care she needs. Contact your district Rotary Foundation chair and see how you and the other Rotarians in your club or district can participate.
I understand the impact these difficult economic times have had on all of us, but we still need your help. Foundation programs and projects all start with money. I hope each Rotarian reading my message will have given something based on his or her own situation. It doesn't take much from each individual when you have the support of more than 1.2 million members, but that assumes 100 percent support. If you've given, I thank you sincerely. But if you haven't, I hope you will as together we make May a great month for Rotary and for our Foundation.
Wilfrid J. Wilkinson
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Rotary eClub NY1 * Updated 2013