The concept of peace is one that differs among people and cultures. It may mean personal tranquility, happiness in the family, and a sense of inner contentment — or it may mean a situation of safety where basic human needs are met. However we define peace, it is a goal that can be achieved through service.
In Rotary, service is much more than a sideline or an occasional pursuit. It is a way of life. It is an approach that emphasizes consideration and caring for others, and leads to harmony among people. Through embracing service in all aspects of our lives, we foster a spirit of sharing, find goodwill for others, and choose peace.
In the 2012-13 Rotary year, peace will be our focus and our goal. I will ask all Rotarians to actively work for Peace Through Service, beginning with every individual, family, club, district, region, and nation.
A belief in the power of service lies at the very heart of Rotary. By making service our priority, we put the needs of others above our own and transform our perspective. We empathize more deeply with the difficulties of other people; we feel a greater drive to reach out, to do what we can to help others live more happily. We become more generous with our time and resources, and more open to new ways of thinking.
Instead of trying to change others, we recognize that everyone and everything has something to teach us — and every day, there are new ways for us to grow.
Through service, we become more tolerant of our differences, and more grateful for the people in our lives. Our sense of gratitude drives us to understand others better and to see the good in everyone. Through better understanding, we learn to respect others. With mutual respect, we live with others in peace.
Our Rotary service fosters peace in many ways. In our clubs and our districts, we work to bring health, safety, and human dignity to communities around the world.
As individuals, we are inspired to value cooperation over competition, and the common good over personal gain. Through self-reflection, we recognize that none of us is perfect and that each of us has something to learn from others.
The motto that is unique to Rotary, Service Above Self, describes the highest form of service. It is a path that anyone can walk — a path that Rotarians have built, and that the whole world can follow. It is a path that leads to greater kindness and contentment, tolerance and understanding.
When we embrace Peace Through Service, we strive for a greater peace for ourselves, and for our world.
The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace is one of the cornerstones of the Rotary movement. With Rotary’s active presence in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, our organization has established itself as a world leader in fostering Peace Through Service. We have accomplished a great deal in this area throughout our history, but we must continue to look forward and recognize that the future of Rotary — and the future prospects for world peace — rest with today’s youth. To ensure a lasting legacy in this arena, we must engage young people in a meaningful way and empower them to carry Rotary’s peacebuilding efforts into the future.
In 2012-13, Rotary International will hold three Rotary Global Peace Forums. Each forum will consist of a three-day program to engage and inspire Rotarians and community leaders. The forum in Berlin will emphasize the value of democracy and freedom. The forums in Honolulu and Hiroshima will focus on young people, including New Generations program participants (Rotaractors, Interactors, Youth Exchange students, and RYLArians), Ambassadorial Scholars, Rotary Peace Fellows, alumni, and young Rotarian leaders.
I am encouraging each district to send at least two participants from these demographic groups.
Others will have an opportunity to participate in the forums remotely through live, interactive telecasts. Find links to more information at www.rotary.org.