I was once asked what I liked and disliked most about Rotary. My reply was the same: the people.
The good far outweighs the bad in quantum proportions.
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There is an amazing goodness about Rotary when you meet such extraordinary and selfless people. I detailed this in an editorial last year about an inspiring visit to Brynmawr Rotary Club in South Wales which embodies how community-minded Rotary should be.
I felt humbled by the commitment to their community, driven not out of a sense of ego, but a desire to make a difference.
I have found much the same whenever I have visited Rotary clubs around the country, and through emails I receive daily from Rotary clubs telling their stories.
I feel inspired and positively grateful to Rotary for allowing our paths to cross.
After all, without Rotary, we would never have met. I now have friends for life.
In order to grow Rotary, surely we all have to be selfless in our focus, more concerned with the wishes and needs of others than with our own.”
These kind and generous folk represent the overwhelming vast majority of our organisation, with the mantra ‘service above self’ running rich through their veins.
But, on the flipside of the coin, there are a few who wear the badge and use Rotary as a vehicle for their own egos.
Maybe it says something of the demographic of Rotary; broadly an organisation of successful men and women, leaders who are used to doing things their own way, irrespective of the consequences, while living in their own silos.
Team-work, tolerance and understanding can be an alien attribute to these fools. But then, isn’t it how you get to the top which is a measure of a person?
I have witnessed this behaviour on a few occasions in Rotary, with one friend last year subjected to the most disgraceful treatment during her term of office. And, sadly, I have been on the receiving end of this abuse too.
When we think about the Rotary mantra of ‘service above self’, consider its proper meaning. Taking action in the name of Rotary for the greater good of Rotary, notwithstanding our own personal desires.
In order to grow Rotary, surely we all have to be selfless in our focus, more concerned with the wishes and needs of others than with our own.
Unfortunately, there are a few pursuing their own agendas with total disregard to wider Rotary, and they are killing their clubs and Districts as a result.
I stress, once again, from what I am witnessing, these represent a vast minority. However, Rotary has no room for these tiring, soulless individuals. Rotary is better off without them. I say, please play your politics and take your egos elsewhere.
Even now, we should all be reminded by the values of our organisation. The Rotary Four-Way Test was adopted by Rotary International in 1943 – originally created in 1932 by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor. Its mantra still holds good today:
- Is it the truth?
- Is it fair to all concerned?
- Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
By the way, my friends at the Deal Pirates in Kent have a fifth test: is it fun?
However, let me point you in the direction of the newly published guide on Rotary’s values and behaviour, which is a modern and clear outline for how Rotarians should behave. There is a link below where you can obtain printed copies from the Rotary Shop.
Some would say we don’t need such explicit guidance. I disagree. It’s easier to ignore the unsavoury behaviour than deal with it – or even walk away. Sometimes a gentle reminder is needed.
Ultimately, it is about respect. It is also about Rotary and peace the world over.