Since December is dedicated to the Rotary Family, I thought it might be worthwhile to look at the word "Rotary" from the perspective of family.
R - Respect is the attitude that underlies any true relationship. Respect for the person is based on their person-hood - on them being brothers and sisters of our family, the family of humanity - not on what they can bring me economically or professionally. Our brothers and sisters have intrinsic value in their own right because they bear the image of their creator. Respect for our fellow man recognizes that human persons are NEVER obstacles or a means to another's end.
O - Omphaloskepsis - which means to stare at one's navel in a mystical manner. (Just kidding. I just wanted to make sure someone was reading this.) A better choice is Other Worldly. As members of the Rotary family our concern takes us beyond Flushing, beyond Area 7, beyond District 6330 to the needs of our family in the entire world. The words of John Donne are worth recalling: No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thye friends or of thine owne were; an mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send toknow for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. We are inextricably linked to one another. We are our brother's keeper.
T- Truth. T is in the heart of the word "Rotary" and in the hearts of Rotarians. As Rotarians, this is the first question we ask. Our relationship with our family - as all human endeavors should be - is based upon the truth. Truth also implies honesty - that we deal with differences respectfully and honestly so as to promote a worthwhile dialogue amongs persons - not a suppression of critical discourse. (The need for Rotarian involvement isn't limited to the Third World.)
A - Attentive & Active. Rotarians are attentive to the needs of the Human family and active in efforts to relieve suffering. As needs change or increase, we respond accordingly. There is a reason why Rotary has been the catalyst behind the soon to be world wide erradication of polio: Governments can't do what dedicated Rotarians throughout the world can do.
R - Relentless. There will always be need in this imperfect world and we, as Rotarians, must be relentless in our efforts to serve the Human family.
Y - Yeast. Yeast is the leavening agent that makes bread rise. Rotarians act as a levening agent in the Human family helping our brothers and sisters - both near and far - rise above proverty, difficulties and problems to a better life for themselves and their children.
It is fitting that in December, as we slow down just a bit to spend time with family, recount our innumerable blessings and perhaps ponder the miracle that our lives are, we also pause to consider our roles as members of the Family of Rotary. A family as broad as the world and as numerous as all of its inhabitants and every bit as real.