Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of reflections on Rotary’s Vision Statement: Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
By Paddy Rooney, governor of District 7390 (Pennsylvania, USA)
It is said that the greatest problem with adolescents is that they are selective listeners … although I personally believe that the problem is not limited to adolescents! We all hear what we want to hear and choose to ignore those things that we don’t want to hear. We pick and choose from the information offered to us, accepting that which pleases us to hear at the moment and ignoring that which we find uncomfortable.
And if that is true for hearing and listening, it is equally true for seeing. We have become selective in what we see, again ignoring those things that make us uncomfortable and seeing only those things that please and satisfy us.
But the problem with such selective seeing is that we can easily miss those things that are critical and important. We would rather frame our reality around those things we see which reinforce our own perceptions and beliefs rather than the sometimes brutal reality which is our world today.
As Rotarians we choose to see those around the world who are dying from diseases because there is no clean water or sanitation; we choose to see those who are displaced children of war or other humanitarian crises; we choose to see those who live without hope because there is no sustainable economic development plan to lift them out of poverty.
We see because the world has chosen to turn a blind eye to these issues, these problems, these crises. But we are Rotarians and we have chosen to open our eyes to the needs of the world and our communities and having seen we cannot turn away.
True sometimes the images are hard to see. But then other images offer themselves for us to see – the parent who cries knowing that those two drops will save her child from polio; the faces of the children when that clear, clean water bubbles up from the earth; and the families who know that we have helped to bring peace and resolution to the conflicts that afflict our world. That is why WE are Rotarians…because TOGETHER we are open and ready to SEE.
Learn more about Rotary’s vision statement and Action Plan