PDG John Wan – Continuity – February 2000


District Governor 2000-2001

Happy Birthday

February 2000 Issue

Those of you who attended the Midnight Mass last Christmas eve in open air at freezing temperature during the Youth Jamboree at Wan Tsai peninsula might recall what the priest said. It was a short sermon, but very much to the point and befitted the occasion. The priest spoke of a person who was not religious at all, but who loved the festive spirit of Christmas so much that he would have Christmas food complete with turkey and Christmas pudding every time he ate out or played host. He decorated his home with holly and ivy and his Christmas tree was always well lit up. Very interestingly, he would wish his friends Happy Christmas year round and gave them Christmas presents. He was asked why he did all that and what the charade was all about. His response was serious and could even be regarded as logical. He said that he believed Christmas was the happiest season in the year. He wanted to be happy every day and to communicate his happiness to others.

Well, even the not very religious would know that Christmas is one of the more if not the most important feasts observed by Christians worldwide and that it was meant to remind them of the birth of Christ and more importantly the love of God for Man. Christians believe that God loves Man so much that He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to our world so that Man could be saved from eternal damnation. The feast has since become commercialized, but on the other hand it is widely observed everywhere, even in non-religious countries, which in turn would help Christians in their mission to spread the gospel. It is for the Church to ponder on the implications, but there could be a lesson to learn from the analogy by service organizations such as Rotary.

All clubs – at least the club presidents – would remember the charter day of their respective clubs and would organize functions to mark the occasions. Many Rotarians in the District love attending these anniversary balls or celebration dinners. There is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, Rotary is as much about fellowship as about service; and nothing except good would come out of these celebratory events which are normally hallmarks of fun and fellowship. The question we should ask of ourselves is perhaps this. Are these dinners and balls helping clubs to bring more Rotary to the membership, and is there a danger that the membership might lose sight of what Rotary is all about in the quest for fun and fellowship?

Let me come closer to the subject of this article. All of you would know that February is Rotary’s World Understanding Month and 23 February, World Understanding and Peace Day. In essence, 23 February is Rotary’s birthday. How many clubs in the District have organized a celebratory event on this day in the past five years? How many have planned one for this year. Not very many, I believe. But why?

You would all be familiar with Cliff Dochtermann’s celebrated publication “The ABCs of Rotary.” He has seen it fit, and I entirely agree with him, to place “Definition of Rotary” upfront – Rotary is an organization of business and professional persons united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build goodwill and peace in the world. I urge you to remember these 31 words by heart, but more importantly, to live up to these words.

It may be too late to organize something for 23 February 2000 or during that week, but it is still worth trying. However, don’t worry too much if you miss this one. Give your club one year to plan an activity for 23 February 2001. Meanwhile, I have one simple suggestion that everyone can achieve if he or she so desires. On 23 February 2000, try greet each other with “It is Rotary’s Birthday” or a similar message. Better still, tell a friend who is not a Rotarian that it is Rotary’s Birthday and recite him or her the 31 words. That would certainly help promote Rotary thereby maintaining continuity.



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