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Saturday, September 1, 2018

Service is not Integral to Rotary; It is Rotary's Reward - -

A reader of the August 1 Post The Heart of Rotary is not Service asked, "Don't you believe that the original framers of the Object of Rotary wanted service to be integral to our organization?"
    "No", I replied . . . "Integral implies that service is embedded in the organization whereas  The Object of Rotary's opening paragraph says, 'The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster: . .' " An ideal is a standard, moral value or belief.  Adopting an ideal becomes a way of life; something that is less subject to be replaced by whims, ideas, or changes in circumstances.  Nowhere does the Object of Rotary even imply that service would be embedded in or used as an adjective to describe the Association of Rotary Clubs, which evolved into Rotary International (RI).
     The original framers wisely constructed the Object of Rotary so it could be adopted by any person, at any time, in any place, and under any social, political, or religious system.  They wanted the Ideal of Service to be a value embedded in Rotarians; a value that would help them make their personal, business, and community lives better regardless of where they lived, worked, and/or played. 
   RI President Barry Rassin, in his August 2018 message, says, "A well-known saying goes, "If you want to change the world, go home and love your family." That doesn't mean people should ignore the needs outside their own homes; instead, they should pay attention to the needs within.
       It can be tempting, when our priority is service, to focus only on the things that look like service: the projects, the planning, and the work that yields a visible benefit to those who need it. But to do that work effectively, we need to keep our own house in order. In Rotary, that means conducting ourselves in accordance with the principles of Rotary, treating others with respect, and following The Four-Way Test. It means maximizing our impact by planning carefully and stewarding our resources wisely. And it means looking after the long-term health of our organization by ensuring that our membership is strong, engaged, and healthy."
       Attempting to make service integral to RI or any of its member clubs promotes concretizing the results of putting the Ideal of Service into practice.  RI itself is encouraging concretizing when it pressures clubs to report outcomes such as volunteer hours and service projects or when it asks clubs to set targets for projects and contributions to TRF.  These may appear to be sound business practices that generate favorable public images, but concretizing results often leads to the results exceeding the Ideal in priority.  This common organization mistake has led to the bankruptcy of once successful organizations, including General Motors and Kodak, and hindered RI's growth, particularly in legacy regions. 

The quantity and quality of service projects (including polio eradication), volunteer hours, and dollars contributed to TRF are the organization's rewards for attracting and retaining Rotarians who choose the Ideal of Service as a way of life, and the only true measure of the organization's long-term health is reflected in RG Indexes.

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