By Paddy Rooney, governor of District 7390 (Pennsylvania, USA)
“We were built for this.” They were just a few words, cast upon a sea of words spoken that evening. But it encapsulated everything that I believe Rotary to be about and what our challenge is for the future. The words were spoken by Rotary International Director Jeffry Cadorette and General Secretary John Hewko at a zoom gathering of district governors and governors-elect. Spoken above the blare of the evening’s business, these words offer a profound vision for Rotary in the months and years to come as we move through this pandemic into the future which awaits us.
I have previously written about the need to re-envision our future as Rotarians, quoting Director Cadorette to illustrate that if Rotary were founded today, it would probably look nothing like it does at present. We showed how this pandemic has changed our very modus operandi from its structured and formalized process into something that is already more dynamic and flexible while still meeting the needs of our members.
But now I realize that the challenge before us goes much deeper than just sustaining our clubs, our community outreach, and our fundraising programs. It stretches into the very heart of our communities, into the very being of our existence as members of those communities, and as forces for change in the future. As Rotarians, 1.2 million strong, we are embedded deep into the life of our communities throughout the world. We represent all sectors, trades, and businesses. But more importantly, we are leaders in our communities.
In the coming months, governmental agencies and political groups will seek to rebuild our economy while other groups will help rebuild our healthcare system which is stretched almost to breaking point. But for me the question is: who will help rebuild our broken communities? Who will heal the rifts and divisions exposed by the pandemic, reach across the divide, and rebuild a sense of unity that says we can and will make a difference in the lives around us?
As Rotarians, we are best positioned to lead the rebuilding, reforming, and reshaping that will be needed in our communities. This is who we are and this is what we do. Indeed, you could say that “we were built for this.” We know our communities better than anyone else. We know its strengths and weaknesses, good and bad, joys and sorrows. We know, and in many cases, we love our communities. We care about what happens and seek the very best for our communities.
Whether in clubs large or small, whether in e-clubs or passport clubs, whether we meet in person or virtually, whether we are Interactors, Rotaractors or Rotarians, we are one in Rotary spirit. With the resources of Rotary International behind us, we can help rebuild our broken and shattered communities. Indeed “we were built for this.” This is our time, this is our moment, this is our call. We can and will do this because we are Rotarians.
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