District Governor 2000-2001


Is there a beginning or an end?

(May 2000 Issue)

In the past months, many friends and well-wishers have asked me whether I would become increasingly busier as July 2000 came closer. My reply invariably was that I should be, adding that Rotarians are always busy.

Yes, Rotarians are always busy. Many business and professional leaders in Rotary have for many years worked tirelessly with endless dedication to help their fellowmen. They are always busy with other people’s problems: they lose sleep because they know out there many people are waiting for their help; many children are roaming the streets, underfed, underclothed and often abused and overworked; many families are starving because the breadwinners were incapacitated in avoidable accidents and sicknesses; and many more families were displaced through conflicts between leaders of their countries. Every time I read about their deeds, I feel proud of being a part of this wonderful organization called Rotary, started by one dreamer Paul Harris who wrote that “Perhaps dreaming is not so bad if one dreams good dreams and makes them come true.”

The untimely passage of our dear friend Paulo V. C. Costa last month must have shocked many Rotarians, but life is for the living. Paulo would not lie content if Rotarians did not continue with the good work which he had started with other worthy Rotarians. Among other things, this RI Past President left us a book of Rotary philosophy and inspiration, called Rotary Wisdom – Reflections on Service. He commissioned this work of love in 1990 when he was Incoming President. It was a collection of some 200 essays of Rotary leaders from 41 countries all of whom were asked to write in no more than 300 words on the only one question of why I am a Rotarian. Only 1,000 copies were produced. Eight years later, when James Lacy was President, 65 more essays were added to the collection which was published as Volume 2 in unlimited copies, at least more than 1,000 anyway. I urge every serious Rotarian to order at least two copies, one for himself and one for his best friend.

In the Introduction, Paulo Costa observed that none of the Rotary leaders had mentioned the quest for fame, for riches or for power as reasons for being a Rotarian. “Rather, these writers speak from the heart. They speak of their commitment to serving mankind. They speak of love, understanding, friendship and peace. These are simple messages, singular and sincere, that passionately express the great wonders that Rotary has to offer.”

It is thus that Rotary and its ideal of service has survived all these years. The mode in which we deliver our service to our fellowmen may have changed, but the Object of Rotary has not. To the committed and dedicated Rotarian, this worthy enterprise is a way of life. They have seen, heard or experienced good deeds being done to their fellowmen, witnessed how the lives of so many have changed because people care, and participated in humanitarian or educational programs which have opened up enormous opportunities for so many. It is this way of life that has attracted the right people to Rotary and inspired them to stay and help to inspire others, through action.

To the committed and dedicated Rotarian, therefore, life is a continuing quest to follow the heart, as opposed to a quest for fame and fortune. Our leader of leaders has challenged all Rotarians to create awareness in our clubs, in our world and in our community, but more importantly, he has urged all of us to take action once awareness is created or enhanced. There is no need to wait for the turn of another Rotary year or calendar year. Any time is a good time for service. Let us keep each other busy and keep ourselves busy all the time. It follows that there is no beginning and no end in the enterprise of service; and this is what continuity is all about.