This past week I was inducted into the McCook Rotary Club after a 16 year absence. I was a Rotarian while I worked in Arkansas before my move to McCook.
The International Rotary Club was begun by Paul Harris in Chicago with three of his close friends in 1905. 106 years later, Rotary is practiced all over the world by almost 34,000 clubs with 1.22 million members. The purpose of Rotary is to bring together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.
The Rotary 4-way test is simple but profound and is recited at the beginning of each Rotary Club meeting:
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build good will and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
I've long believed that every human being on the planet has a personal, social, and moral obligation to leave this place a little better than it was before we arrived. People who live in this country, either natural born or immigrant, possess a birthright everyone else yearns to have. We live in the greatest country in the world with a high standard of living and tremendous personal freedoms. Even though it's not easy, it's possible to start at the bottom and end up at the top, based on your socialization, your drive, your integrity, your intelligence and your guts.
And yet so many of our citizens look this great honor in the face and turn their backs on it. They do little if anything to make society better, their family's life better or even their own. In fact we know that this country is worse off because some people occupied space in it and that has always confounded me.
The Rotary motto is "Service above self." This compels Rotarians to build community loyalties, to help those in need, to promote truth and justice and to put others first before ourselves. We all know we're only here for a short time, yet what we do while we ARE here will be remembered long after we're gone, whether it's good or bad.
So when one accepts the call to be a Rotarian, he or she knows, accepts, and fully commits to the motto of the club and that spirit is seen every week in the communal gathering the club has and the things it does for people in and around our community.
But you don't have to be a Rotarian to abide by our motto. In fact, if "service above self" was EVERYBODY'S motto, the world would be a much better place. If we all strive every day to tell the truth, to be fair in our relationships and our dealings with other, to build good will and better friendships and to make sure that whatever we do and say is beneficial to all concerned, as the old Louis Armstrong song said, "What a wonderful world this would be."
I know for many it's not easy to put others ahead of ourselves when the going is tough and the bills are hard to pay. But then again, anything worth having is worth working for. We need to be an actualized community of doers and the very best way for that to happen is for everyone to adopt the Rotary motto and put your obligations and responsibilities to others above your own daily wants and needs.
If everyone would do this, then the world WILL be a better place for you having been in it.