Rotary International President-Elect, Gordon McInally, has admitted shedding tears of sorrow at the war in Ukraine. And the Scot, who will take over at the helm of the organisation in less than 12 months’ time, has insisted that Rotary needs a renewed focus on peace.
Gordon, a member of South Queensferry Rotary in Lothian, was speaking at the Rotary International Convention in Houston, where he accepted the Presidential nomination.
He said: “To quote the great philosopher, Sir Isaac Newton, I am standing on the shoulders of giants you have charged me with a great responsibility. And I give you my pledge that I will carry out my duties to the very best of my abilities, and with every fibre of my being.”
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Peace was a key part of Gordon’s seven-minute speech. “It is, after all, something that is in our very DNA,” he told delegates.
“Like me, you must have been horrified by the brutal and unprovoked war being waged on Ukraine by Russia.
“I have shed tears of sorrow at the atrocities we have watched play out on our television screens as the days have turned to weeks, and the weeks have turned to months.”
However, he said he had shed tears of pride and joy over the $15 million donated globally to The Rotary Foundation’s Disaster Fund, with tens of thousands of Rotarians providing practical, hands-on help to those affected by the conflict.
He added: “Never forget, peace is more so much more than the absence of war or armed conflict. This is freedom for healthy adults and children.
“Peace is clean water and sufficient food. Peace is education, human rights, dignity, clothing, housing and concern for mankind. But above all, peace is love.”
“By showing love, Rotary can help the helpless, Rotary can give hope to the hopeless and Rotary will lead the way towards peace in our world.”
During his speech, Gordon spoke how Rotary has grown through the Covid pandemic as the experience has taught Rotarians to care for each other and the world.
He pointed out how the world today is so divided, which is the opposite of what Rotary stands for.
Never forget, peace is more so much more than the absence of war or armed conflict. This is freedom for healthy adults and children.”
He explained: “We are an organisation that believes in finding common ground and our humanity. And it falls to us to take up the hard work of reaching out; not just to the ones where it comes most easily but, more importantly, to those with whom we might assume we have nothing in common. And then to earn the light, we discover so much that draws us all into a common cause.
And he added: “The Scottish rugby team, of which I am a passionate supporter, uses the slogan of ‘better together’ and it’s not wrong. Together we will achieve much more than we can working alone.
“We’re in a time of great change and equally great opportunity within Rotary. But what about the world around us? Our world is in a time of great turmoil. One where Rotary’s historic commitment to building and fostering peace has been challenged like never before. And that is why I think we need a renewed focus on peace within Rotary.”