PDG John Wan – GML – June 2000
“Anybody recognize this club?”
This was the question posed by an experienced but exacerbated Rotarian when he was confused by the decisions of the club leadership over club administration and other matters. He went on to explain, “In my days, I would get at least five calls in the afternoon if I failed to turn up at my club meeting without first telling the president or another member. Now, nobody seems to care whether I turn up at all and nobody from the club called me in the last three weeks I was unable to attend club meetings. It seems that the worst has yet to come judging from the letter the board has just served this dedicated past president. The board has threatened to remove him from the club register if he cannot offer a satisfactory explanation for his failure to turn up at the past four meetings.”
Déjà vu indeed. It is not inconceivable from a distance that neither the board nor the experienced Rotarian was entirely right or wrong. Paul Harris had said, “There are no great fundamental differences between men and between nations. None are entirely good, none entirely bad. The great mischief-maker is misunderstanding.” Paul Harris had also called for tolerance between members, describing the quality as the single most important for Rotary and between Rotarians.
I urge you to revisit the June message from President Frank. He recalled the five presidential conferences he had presided in Mexico City, Miami, Cape Town, Manila and Vienna that had focused on a range of issues, from urban concerns to membership. He had seen first-hand how hard these proactive Rotarians had worked to accomplish the many goals they set for themselves. He then urged all Rotarians to join him in supporting his successor Rick King to accomplish the four challenges for the next year, namely, to grow our membership, enhance Rotary’s public image, ensure that all Rotarians are excited about Rotary by being better informed, and ensure that every club is ready, willing and able to embrace service projects Rotary need to complete.
Even in the eleventh hour of his term, President Frank has asked his district governors and club presidents to redouble efforts in membership growth and membership development.
Closer to home, it certainly has been an eventful year. There was not one day in the past 18 months and probably longer, not one day on which Rotary in general and this District in particular was not on my mind. At first, I thought that Rotary had kept me awake or asleep, Rotary had kept me going, or that Rotary had fueled my imagination. Later I realized and now I am fully convinced that it is you, all of you, who had been responsible. Indeed, Rotary would be meaningless without the people in it. You are Rotary in District 3450. Collectively, you have made Rotary meaningful and I am happy to be part of you.
At the District Installation last June, I said that I was accepting the office of District Governor with humility. As time goes by, the feeling becomes all the more intense, and a year later, I am thoroughly and completely humbled by the experience and the privileges of having had the experience. I have seen dedicated men and women at work. Most of them have worked quietly on projects that would benefit humanity in general and the underprivileged in particular. I have seen presidents standing staunchly by their principle and spending hours, days and months taking their clubs through thick and thin. Indeed, there are many unsung heroes among you and your members.
Some of you have achieved more than others, but that is not an issue. We are volunteers. We have volunteered to serve our fellow human beings, for better or for worse. As long as we have tried our best, the results do not matter. Just as the race is not always to the fast and the battle to the strong, the arguments are not always to the right and the righteous. But don’t lose heart. Don’t ever lose heart. You are not here for the laurels and recognition. You are here for the extra opportunities to serve. Your mission surely must be to motivate more service minded individuals to join our organization, people who believe in what we believe, even in the face of temporary setbacks.
To my Action Presidents, don’t ever even begin to think that your work has finished. No, I have made this point before and let me say for the record that Rotarians never retire. You are now to assist your successors, the presidents-elect to become even more effective presidents. Indeed, you would not be regarded as having done your full and complete duty as Action Presidents if he or she fails to deliver a better year ahead. We need progress in the organization. Your role is to ensure that the Rotary wheel will continue to roll forward.
To Governor-elect Johnson, I pledge my full support under the leadership we can certainly all expect from him. I expect Johnson to build on the success of the past and take the District to greater heights, and I would support him in all his endeavours towards this end. I am convinced that we would have a better tomorrow for the District. I have enjoyed and benefited from the support he has given me during the year, and he can expect and indeed demand the same from you and me. This is what continuity is all about.
To the Presidents-elect, I congratulate you for embarking on this next stage of your journey in Rotary. The prospects are good. Our leader for 2001-02, Johnson Chu, is a good guy and deserves every bit of your support. Give him your best. More importantly, you should feel assured that support from your predecessors is considered given.
Let me conclude by thanking all of you. There is no way Rosita and I could have survived the year without the love and support that you have showered upon us so generously and selflessly. As long as this spirit of understanding prevails and as long as there is a willingness to tolerate each other’s difference, everyone will recognize that we are Rotarians. Thank you.