Thursday, March 19, 2009

Rotary, the Rotarian and Desmond Tutu

Over the last few years, it's been my privilege to be a member of two Rotary Clubs, the first was the Rotary Club of Essex and Rotary Club of Brantford. I have truly enjoyed the experience of the Clubs, not only for the get togethers and fellowship, but for the way Rotarians give back to the community and to the world. Both clubs, the former and the present are composed of people who work very hard to make the communities a better place. The Essex club only had a few members, less then 20, but each member worked hard for the local, district and International work of Rotary. The same holds true with Brantford.

One thing I did learn from my time in Essex is the fact that Rotary does live up to the term "International" in its title. Over the last number of years, the emphasis of RI has been the eradication of polio. RI and club members have donated both money and time to bring this about, in fact Rotary is close to bringing about the end of the polio scourge. There are just a handful of places left on the planet where polio still exists. So huge has been this effort that recently the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave a grant of $355 Million to assist in the effort. For his willingness, Bill Gates has been made an Honourary Rotarian.

With this battle almost at an end doesn't mean Rotary is going to rest and become a "fork and knife" club, already clubs are getting involved in providing clean water to the developing world. This new challenge is now gathering a great deal of momentum:
Recognizing the vital importance of safe water, Rotary International policy encourages all Rotary districts and clubs to support efforts which help people to provide themselves with safe water. The safe water projects are to be reasonably close to homes using simple sustainable technology. This policy is reflected in projects of all sizes in all parts of the world

What got me writing about Rotary this day, besides the fact I enjoy being a Rotarian is that today I received my April copy of The Rotarian. This is the monthly magazine for Rotarians of Rotary news. Of course I read each issue but this one in particular caught my eye, because on the cover was the Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In the issue is an interview of the Archbishop Tutu by Charlayne Hunter-Gault. It is an amazing interview that gave me some interesting insights into one of the heros of the late 20th century. He is a man not afraid to give his opinion. In fact the Wikipedia article gives this quote:
Tutu is widely regarded as "South Africa's moral conscience"[18] and has been described by former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, as "sometimes strident, often tender, never afraid and seldom without humour, Desmond Tutu's voice will always be the voice of the voiceless".[16] Since his retirement, Tutu has worked to critique the new South African government. Tutu has been vocal in condemnation of corruption, the ineffectiveness of the ANC-led government to deal with poverty, and the recent outbreaks of xenophobic violence in townships across South Africa.

It is interesting to note he did not vote in the last general election, when one considers he spent the vast majority of his life NOT voting, this was an incredible act. To him it was to draw attention to the corruption of the ANC.

In the interview he gives his opinion on conflict, ending poverty, the election of Barak Obama, the future role of the United States and a few other things. What impressed besides the entire article was the fact he can give another dimension to situations, for example, the recent global recession he says:
Tell me, with this present economic hoo-ha – yesterday there was money, today the money disappeared, and then a government can produce US$700 billion [as a federal bailout] – where did this money go, and where does this new money come from? [The U.S. government] was saying to their own people, there isn’t enough money to beef up schools in poor areas, there’s not enough money to give every American access to health care. But God is saying, there is enough for everybody’s needs, there is not enough for everybody’s greed.

That is his overall theme, there is enough for everybody. He views the world as the gathering of individuals who should care for each other. He discusses Ubuntu, the philosophy not the Linux Operating System.

He says:
It is probably the best gift we can give to the world. It’s reminding us that we are meant for togetherness. I come into this world, and I’m a helpless lump. I don’t come fully formed. I have to learn how to speak as a human being. I have to learn how to think as a human being. I have to learn how to be human through other people

To Tutu, relationship is all important, he concludes with this:
We are meant for togetherness.

So follow the link above and read the article.

I should blog soon about Ubuntu the Operating System soon.

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