For the past few months we’ve been discussing the nucleus of Rotary. We’ve deliberated over what it means to engage Rotary, reflected on how reciprocity courses through the veins of both the “Golden Rule” and the Four-Way Test, and meditated on our collective commitment to conscience and goodwill. The fruition of these musings and contemplation has served to buttress our own philosophy, and hopefully left us a bit more adept at flourishing it. But, the time has come in my tenure as DG to shift the direction of my expatiation from the sublime to the utilitarian.
To pursue “The greatest good for the greatest number”, which was the basis for the Utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, we need to SERVE WISELY and put our resources to best use. As our best resource is our philosophy, we need to be cognizant of the efficiency with which we channel the Rotary spirit. Whether it is a fresh idea or ardor for an existing project, before its vision can come to realization it must first be channeled through our organizational structure. Paul Harris expounded on the need to maximize the efficacy of Rotary’s organizational flow more than once, and in a Letter to the Board of Directors of the International Association of Rotary Clubs described it thus:
“The man who insists upon all power and authority flowing through his two hands, limits the accomplishment of his concern to the size of his own hands. The house that has a half-inch water pipe connecting it with the great ten-inch city main, will get half-inch service, not ten-inch. So it is with the vast main of power and progress in Rotary – if it must pass to the members through a half-inch pipe, then we shall never have more of it than can flow through that diameter. It may be too much to expect to find a single pipe of Rotary’s true diameter, but perhaps we may find two or three, each to carry a part of the load, and so release a vastly larger service to our world.”
The clear message here is that we can’t let ourselves get caught micromanaging Rotary or spreading the Rotary spirit too thin. I’m sure we’ve all seen too many times how easily good ideas wind up lost, passion fizzles out, and zeal gets tangled up in the bureaucracy. It has been in the spirit of removing organizational bottlenecks that we have restructured the roles of the District officers this year. By involving more people in the process, we should be better able to ensure that the service the world sees is closer to the true undiluted source of the Rotary Spirit. While a good start, we have to bear in mind that structural change is largely superficial without an underlying cultural change. What we have to ask ourselves now is how we can go about changing our culture to promote a decentralization of power and include a larger team of officers and members at the district, area, and club levels.