Respect – The Prelude To Peace by Frank Deaver

Posted By rotary

Peace Through Service, Rotary International ThemePeace Through Service is the Rotary theme for this year, chosen by RI President Sakuji Tanaka.  But how may we define peace?  It is far more than the absence of war.  Intense fighting can go on for months or years without a declared state of war.  On the other hand, a state of war can exist indefinitely with no actual combat.

Peace, reduced to a single word, is respect.  Respect for the humanity of all people.  Respect for property and possessions.  Respect for beliefs contrary to our own.  Respect that leads to Service.  Peace Through Service.

Martin Luther King compared modern society to a great world house, in which, he said, we have no alternative but to live together – black and white, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Hindu.  “Because we can never again live apart,” he said, “we must learn somehow to live with each other in peace.”

 Rotary District 2450 is perhaps the most multi-cultural district in the Rotary world, with clubs in eight countries and on three continents.  Their “world house” of 139 clubs includes diversity of geography, ethnicity, language, and religion.  Yet, District Governor (2005-06) John C. Strongylos said their 4000 Rotarians live and work and serve together by “adhering to the principles of Rotary.”  He said this includes “mutual respect, tolerance, and consideration.”

 There is that word again – respect.  If Rotarians in the Middle East can rise above the conflicts that surround them, why cannot the rest of society learn to live together in mutual respect and peace?  Why does our world find it so difficult to embrace that elusive commodity, respect?

 Lack of respect, or hatred, is passed along from generation to generation.  Children are not born to hate; they learn to hate.  In the words of a song, 

              You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,             

              Before you are six or seven or eight,

              To hate all the people your relatives hate.

              You’ve got to be carefully taught.

                      — from the musical, South Pacific

 If in fact hatred is an attitude that is taught, then surely its counterpart lies in the teaching of respect.  The Fourth Object of Rotary calls for “the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace.”  If there is to be Peace Through Service, what must be carefully taught is – here is that word again – respect.    


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.