Working for peace has always been a priority for Rotary. Rotary’s journey began with the simple object of friendship and the spirit of mutual cooperation — two ingredients important for peace. Our work for peace doesn’t happen at conferences and seminars; it happens through personal relationships, meeting basic human needs, and working one-to-one to resolve conflicts. Peace has two aspects — absence of conflict and war; and developing conditions in our communities that allow people to progress, meet basic needs and allow a quality of life conducive to peace.
When basic needs are not met peace is difficult to achieve. Every time we bring water to those without water, provide an opportunity for literacy or give another child polio drops, we do what Rotarians do, that is, creating the basic conditions needed for peace. Rotarians are at the forefront of working for peace by rebuilding schools in Uttarakhand, providing school benches in Andhra Pradesh, empowering women in rural Maharashtra, vocational training in Tamil Nadu or flood relief in Kerala.
Peace does not mean to live in a place without noise, problems, hard work and pain. Peace means that despite being in the midst of all these things we remain calm. This is the true meaning of peace. Every time we turn on the news channels, we see violence, suffering, and injustice happening on our planet. Sometimes we are silent, sometimes we speak out and take action.
But how we act and what we say are always guided by our thoughts and feelings, over which we have control and responsibility. Only by first “being the change” as Gandhiji put it — being peaceful, being loving and calm ourselves — can we bring greater peace, love and wisdom to the world around us.
Be the peace you want to see in the world. It starts within the hearts of each of us and spreads out from there. That will truly ensure Rotary connects the world. Enjoy Rotary, Enjoy Yourself.
Dr Bharat Pandya,
RI Director, 2019-21