Poverty of living role models

RI President Barry Rassin with Mahatria Ra.
RI President Barry Rassin with Mahatria Ra.

Inspirtational speaker Mahatria Ra, addressing the Chennai Institute, gave a new perspective to the RI President’s theme — Be the inspiration. 

Referring to the ₹100 crore generous contribution of RC Bangalore Orchards President D Ravi Shankar, he  said, “Don’t get carried away by numbers. The inspiration is not the number. Then you go into speculations such as he has so he gave. The ₹100 crore does not make him a great human being. That he had a heart to give makes him great. You should draw inspiration from that. The very act of Ravi Shankar’s giving is to inspire others to give whatever possible from within their means.”

The number of nerves that goes from the eyes to the brain is much greater than those connecting the ears and the brain. People get inspired by what they see more than from what they hear. “The greatest poverty in the world is the poverty of living role models. Why are we still quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Jesus Christ or Mother Teresa? Why should there be historical references to inspire people?

Each of us can be a role model if we are true to ourselves. You must realise that the greatest gift Rotary has given you is the number of beautiful human beings it has got into your life. If we have to build ‘one world, one humanity’, not distinguished by colour, caste or nationality, Rotary is the way and it has only one purpose — serving humanity,” he said.

Prescribing the way for a holistic life, Ra stressed on achieving a balance in five dimensions of one’s life — health, wealth, love, bliss and spirituality. “Despite  achieving so much, there is an incompleteness in all of us. We don’t know what we are searching for, but we are searching.” Urging the delegates to achieve a balanced life, he said: “Push your body a little more than it feels comfortable.  Evaluate your food intake — if it is pleasurable or healthy. Never stop learning and developing yourself. Be a giver in relationships and not a beggar. Quieten your mind and still your body for three minutes daily. “By doing all these you will be a holistic inspiration to people around you,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s Minister for Finance and Mass Media Eran Wickramaratne spoke on how the government and Rotary can work in sync for building a healthy nation. He complimented PRIP K R Ravindran who was then the DG of D 3220 (Sri Lanka) for negotiating a ceasefire with the LTTE to continue polio immunisation in the troubled regions of the island nation. “What was impossible was made possible by Ravindran. He said, ‘don’t worry about the conflict. We will take care of it.’ The government did not have access or control in those areas during that period.”

Rotary’s contribution in Sri Lanka was “not just armchair charity,” he said and referred to the swift response of Rotarians during the tsunami in 2004, and the schools and maternity hospitals built thereafter.

He suggested two ideas for Rotarians to supplement governments worldwide; by providing  support for aging population, and caring for the environment. While the world faced an average 40 environment crises until 2014, the number has shot up to 300–400 natural disasters. “This is the new normal,” said the minister. Tsunamis, droughts, floods — all these involve loss of lives and assets. Even with the new instruments such as insurance against disaster risk and so forth, we cannot meet the huge need that is out there. “We need your support in water management, soil conservation, agriculture etc,” he said.

Chairing the session PRID Ashok Mahajan said, “Rotary’s strength is that it knows no borders and Rotarians are raring to go anywhere to serve mankind.”

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