I believe that RI President Holger Knaack’s theme, Rotary Opens Opportunities, fits the times so well. You might ask how that can be, given all of the turmoil happening around us today. The following story, paraphrased from British author Alan Watts’ telling of a Taoist parable, helps explain why.
Once there was a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbours came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.” The farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day, the horse came back, bringing seven wild horses. In the evening, everybody said, “Isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!” The farmer again said, “Maybe.”
The following day, his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad.” The farmer responded, “Maybe.”
The next day, officers came around to conscript people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbours said, “Isn’t that great!” Again, the farmer said, “Maybe.”
What we learn from this is that nature is immensely complex. It’s impossible to tell whether anything that happens is good or bad, because you never know what the consequences will be. All we can know is that with every action and reaction, there is an opportunity — a chance to live our values, express our desires, and take action to make the world a bit closer to the way we want it to be.
The Rotary Foundation is our conduit to make those meaningful changes. Through the Foundation, we do our part to help rid the world of polio. In addition, we can help support important Covid-19 projects and prepare the world for the massive vaccination effort that will be needed soon. And we can help keep some continuity in service to people in need when so many regular services are being disrupted.
Will this be Rotary’s great moment to become an even stronger organisation in the 21st century? Maybe. Is this your great opportunity to live your values? Maybe! It’s up to you and me.
K R Ravindran
Foundation Trustee Chair