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Seven paths to peace

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by Robert Stewart, Rotary Club of Okotoks, Alberta , Canada (D5360) and Director of Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace 

I can not tell you how happy I was to learn of such a wonderful publication. The Rotary International publication “Seven Paths to Peace” is as relevant today (2004) as it was when it was written in 1959. In fact, I was amazed at the wisdom contained in this book published 45 years ago. I have been doing a lot of research into peacebuilding and peace education over the past 9 years (a passion that was ignited in me by Rotary) and I learned a lot from the book, particularly from a Rotary point of view.

It is very important for me to understand the history, current perspective and future path Rotary is following to peace. I think this is important for all Rotarians to understand – this is a ‘must read’ for anyone genuinely interested in Rotary. It is also recommended to non-Rotarians interested in building peace.

When you read the book, you will note that the male gender is used in general. At the time the book was written, there were no female members of Rotary. Please consider the male gender usage interchangeable for both genders.

How important is this? As you will read in the Introductory Chapter ‘Where the Paths Begin’, “… Rotarians believe that if there is failure in the avenue of international service, there may be no need for concern about the other avenues of service. … and this book is presented in the hope and belief that there are thousands (now millions) of hands which up to now have not been lifted – but which now may be persuaded to row a new and firm course.”

Why should this book be any more relevant now than in 1959? Two things immediately come to mind: Rotary is now doubled in size (over 1.2 million members around the world) and we have the strong contribution of female members. We can also lever our contributions through partnerships with other like-minded organizations (eg. Lions International, YM/YWCA, religious organizations, etc., etc.). However, the most significant change in the past decade – what makes rather considerable progress possible today is what I call ‘E-peace’ – that ability to magnify everything one does, and the related communication and information transfer, at least ten-fold through the use of computer and Internet, around the world instantly. E-peace surely will make community and world peace more of a reality within our, and our children’s generation. For example, any Rotarian can belong to a number of Rotary On The Internet (ROTI) email listservers to facilitate peace communications and action around the world. Rotary can have a central peacebuilding website to disseminate important peace education information. Much of the moral support and information for our web site comes from these networks. 

The bottom line is that peace in our families, communities and world is achievable. The Carnegie Institute conducted a study on Preventing Deadly Conflict that concluded, “It is not that we do not know what to do … it is that we do not act.” The reason that it (peace) has not been achieved is one of motivation: world and community leaders have not been motivated to raise their awareness and work together in co-operation to achieve peace. Education, awareness and knowledge of how each can make a difference will motivate people and get them to demand action from our institutions such as government. This important book shows us how.

Happy reading, and ‘may the force of Rotary be with you’ as you help to build peace in our communities and world.