As a global service organization with over 1.2 million members, Rotary is able to bridge many cultural divides to eradicate polio and other diseases, promote peace, education, literacy, women and children's health and so much more. While I knew that about Rotary, I truly experienced it at the Rotary International Conventions in Atlanta and Toronto. What do I mean by "experienced" it? I personally met and spoke with Rotarians from all over the world--Pakistan, Afghanistan, Africa, Asia, France, Italy, Australia and many from the U.S. While we may have spoken different languages, dressed differently and looked different, each Rotarian I met had the SAME HEART for service. Rotary bridges divides because our basis for understanding and communicating is the Four Way Test and our motto Service Above Self. Be sure to ask Bob Hagan and Gordon Owens about their experiences at the Hamburg Convention.
Many will argue (pun intended) that we live in the most divisive of times, but any reader of history will tell you that division has been a part of the human condition since the beginning of time. However, it does seem that people (including Rotarians) are unwilling to listen to others for understanding rather than to respond and even Rotarians sometimes forget to consider whether our actions and words are “Beneficial to All Concerned” before acting or speaking negatively about others (including our fellow Rotarians). Finding common ground and listening for understanding are critical to our ability to carry on the missions of Rotary, work effectively in Roswell, and build relationships with family and friends. While humans will and should continue to disagree, we can learn to do it productively. Check out this Ted Talk by Julie Dhar about How to Disagree Productively.
Or, just join us on Thursday! Judge Elizabeth Gobeil will explore the trend of divisiveness and offer practical tips on how to bridge ideological and other divides. In doing so, she will draw inspiration from history, pop culture and her personal experiences.
Let's commit to first focus on the things people do right, rather than the things they do wrong, and lift each other up so we can inspire and serve others courageously. Join us on Thursday for another great speaker!