From Diversity to Unity By Frank Deaver

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Thousands of Rotarians from more than a hundred countries came together for the 2007 RI Convention in Salt Lake City, and in one of the earliest gatherings they demonstrated an example of why Rotarians are Rotarians. Back grounded by the stirring music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, readings were presented by Moslem, Buddhist, Mormon, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian representatives. The selections included common themes of brotherhood, service, and peace.

Tuscaloosa Rotary Honor Flight will be making its 4th flight on May 18th and we will be taking both WWII and Korean War Veterans to see their memorials in Washington, D. C.

The underlying message was consistent and obvious, summarized by convener Ron Burton, now incoming RI President. Whatever our differences, he said, whether racial, religious, or political, “we are united by our humanitarian works, our high ethical standards, and our promotion of goodwill and peace in the world.”

Selections read from the holy books of Islam and Buddhism underscored respect and consideration for others. Harmony and happiness were the emphases from the Hindu religion. The Mormon speaker said that whatever our differences, “as Rotarians we all want the same things.” And the Christian commandment, “love thy neighbor,” challenged doing for others.

The session underscored that year’s theme, “Rotary Shares.” For Rotarians, delegates were told, “Sharing doesn’t mean giving away what you have to spare, what you don’t need for yourself. Sharing means giving of yourself, selflessly, for the good of others.”

The story is told of a farmer whose corn won top honors, year after year, in a fair. In a news interview, it was disclosed that he regularly gave some of his prized seed corn to his neighbors. “Why do you do that?” a reporter inquired. “That only helps your neighbors compete for the annual honor.” The farmer replied, “But you don’t understand. The wind blows pollen about the area, and cross-pollinates the corn. If my neighbors raise inferior corn, my own crop will soon be compromised. It is by helping my neighbors that I help myself.”

It is the same with Rotary’s service role in improving the human condition. By reducing the temptation to hostility, by improving health conditions, by promoting higher standards of learning, Rotary is making the world a better and safer place for all.

Rotarians representing five different world religions spoke at that convention session in Salt Lake City. All of them cited quotations or principles deeply held in their respective religious beliefs, but themes shared by Rotarians, whatever their religion. That is why Rotary is non-sectarian. That is why, together, Rotarians can accomplish so much. 



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