Paul Harris on Rotary in a changing world

“It is well that there is nothing in Rotary so sacred that it cannot be set aside in favor of things better.”

Paul Harris plants a tree in Santiago, Chile.  On this trip, Harris also planted trees in Callao and Lima, Peru; Bogotá, Colombia; Valparaiso, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil

Paul Harris plants a tree in Santiago, Chile.
On this trip, Harris also planted trees in Callao and Lima, Peru; Bogotá, Colombia; Valparaiso, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil

In 1936, Paul Harris and his wife, Jean, traveled throughout Central and South America. Upon their return to Chicago, Paul shared his experiences in Peregrinations III.

Reflecting on a tree planting in Chile — one of many during the trip, he noted that he thought of tree plantings as a symbol of good will, and hoped that the trees he had planted at home and abroad would stand for generations. But Harris also considered the tree plantings experiments, to some degree, and compared them to “all things new to Rotary.” He continued:

“It is well that there is nothing in Rotary so sacred that it cannot be set aside in favor of things better. This is an experimental age in a changing world, and all things which are worthwhile and progressive are the cumulative effects of preceding successes and failures.”

Rotary’s founder recognized the need for self-assessment and creative adaptation, perhaps even some experimentation, to create positive change in the world.

How does your club improve and enhance Service Above Self? Leave a comment below. 

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