The miracle is not to fly in the air, or to walk on water
The real miracle is to walk well on the Earth.
Rotary gives us the opportunity to make our earthly walk special. And one of the best ways it does that is through our work in the field of peace, goodwill and world understanding. Peace starts at home, in every corner of our house and everything we say and do. All of us also should know that peace in our own lives, much like attitude, is a choice. Peace is not just the absence of war, it is also about feeling safe, having enough food to feed your family, an opportunity to get education and thrive without being handicapped by avoidable diseases. I believe Rotary is all about hope. Hope for a brighter future and better world for future generations. In a world filled with conflict, war, terrorism and darkness Rotary offers a ray of hope by working for peace and goodwill. Our work for peace doesn’t happen only at conferences and seminars. It happens through personal relationships, service, meeting basic human needs and working with each other to resolve conflicts. It happens through reaching across borders and continents and helping develop conditions that allow peace to flourish.
Global conflict has created a huge crisis with an estimated 68.5 million refugees. The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2019 was $14.5 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms. This figure is equivalent to 10.6 per cent of the world’s economic activity (gross world product) or $1,909 per person. According to the Global Peace Index, 81 countries became more peaceful in 2019 and 80 countries less so. Peacefulness has declined year after year for nine of the last 12 years. This is something we in Rotary can and should do something about. Rotary’s Peace Scholars programme is aimed at tackling issues of global conflict.
Peace is a state of harmony characterised by absence of violence, freedom from fear and a good quality of life. Service is an activity performed for the benefit of others. Individually they are dissimilar, but look closely, and they are interlinked and intertwined. When basic needs — food, water, shelter, health — are not met peace is difficult to achieve. When people are hungry, homeless there is a tendency to fight and grab, with resultant conflict. Three Bs — Bread, Bed and Basic education — are needed for positive peace. Rotary is working for positive peace by meeting the needs of the community. Rotary service is peace in action.
Significantly, Prof Muhammad Yunus got a Nobel prize not for Economics, which was widely expected, but Peace, because he had enhanced the livelihood of poor women and lifted them out of poverty.
Tolerance, integrity and service are the three cornerstones of positive peace. Rotary’s peace efforts are the example of the power of one — one Rotarian, one club, one district multiplied many times. Make most of the opportunity. Enjoy Rotary, enjoy yourself.
Dr Bharat Pandya,
RI Director, 2019-21