February is Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution Month
Is it me, or do the months seem to be flying by? February is Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution Month and one hundred eighteen years ago this month, the four members of Rotary’s first club held their first meeting.
Today, as in 1905, many of us come to Rotary seeking what Paul Harris sought: friendship, connections, a place to feel at home. But today, Rotary gives us so much more than it could ever have given its members in those early days. The Rotary of today, more than 1.2 million members strong, lets us feel at home not only in a small group of our peers, but also in our diverse clubs, across our communities, and indeed throughout the world. Today, Rotary connects us all in a way that Paul Harris could never have dreamed on that February evening so long ago. Not only can we go anywhere in the world there is a Rotary club and feel at home, but we can reach out to anywhere in the world there is a Rotary club and make a difference.
In the 118 years since that first meeting, Rotary has become far larger, and more diverse, than those founding members could have conceived. We have gone from an organization that was all white and all male to one that welcomes women and men of every possible background. We have become an organization whose stated purpose is service, reflected in our motto, Service Above Self. And we have become not only an organization that is capable of changing the world, but one that has already done so, through our work to eradicate polio.
Today over 70 million people are displaced as a result of conflict and half of these are children. As Rotarians, we continue to create environments of peace. Our work fighting disease, providing clean water and sanitation, improving the health of mothers and children, and supporting education help build the conditions necessary for peaceful societies. I trust you will join me as we celebrate our successes, look to the future, and discover new ways to build peace in our community.