Seven paths to peace
SHORTLY BEFORE an election, the London borough of Lambeth organized an exhibition to encourage voters to exercise their privilege on election day. There were all sorts of interesting features; picturesque episodes in the long struggle for the right to vote, charts showing the ebb and flow of voter interest in past elections, maps and models of new developments planned for the borough with brief biographies of the candidates. But most magnetic of all the attractions was a mysterious box. It bore a sign reading:
THIS PERSON CARRIES THE HEAVIEST BURDEN.
Visitors were invited to peer within and to press a button. A light went on disclosing the only contents of the box – a looking glass!
If a Rotary club were to hold an exhibition of international service, might not the very same feature be included? A mirror for the individual Rotarian to look at himself! It would dramatize the thought of the international service committee of a Rotary club in Denmark at the end of a splendid year’s work:
The international work must be carried out by every single member of the club. The international service committee is not a separate, sole agency or department within the club. The committee directs, advises, informs and assists you, the individual member, in all matters pertaining to international service in order that you may do your part in this essential Rotary service. As a Rotarian it is YOUR responsibility.
This thought was the basis of the program of one president of Rotary International who challenged individual Rotarians to find their “personal paths to peace”. This admonition creates an obligation to set personal objectives, to survey every facet of the local scene to find where service and information may be helpful. This is not to dictate to the individual Rotarian but to help him to do what he wants to do, what he knows he should do, and to persuade him that what he does is important. It should be clearly understood by Rotarians and non-Rotarians, too, that the impact of Rotary is created by individual Rotarians.
“After years of concentrated effort,” writes the New Zealand Rotarian who initiated the study of the seven paths to peace, “the central problem remains the same. We are still trying to devise ways and means of capturing the imagination of the individual Rotarian. Opportunity is there, information is there, the desire to use both is there in the majority of members. Yet we still have to persuade the individual that his effort, however small, will and does affect the total.”
What can the Rotarian do? What has he already done? What opportunities come to the Rotarian because he is a Rotarian? And has he taken advantage of these opportunities? These are only a few of the searching questions which will come to the Rotarian – and the non-Rotarian too – as he reads the story of other Rotarians and, more important, as he appraises his own movements along his “personal path to peace”.
First, it should be pointed out that being a Rotarian sets up advantages and opportunities not presented to many persons. The Rotarian can open his Official Directory of more than 10,000 clubs in more than 100 lands, turn to any page, put his finger down on a club listing and say, “Here I have a friend.” He can write a personal letter to that club president or secretary with the expectation of getting a personal reply. He can visit that club on a meeting day and be welcomed as a friend. He may be a guest in any Rotarian’s place of business or in his home. The candor – and respect – with which Rotarians approach each other is significant.
Rotarians travel a great deal. In these days when no point on the earth is more than a few hours away, travel to other lands is easy and attractive. Thousands of Rotarians travel in other countries each year, and the number is increasing. “Making up” in another club is not only a necessity, it is a privilege which no Rotarian would forego.
Imagine the experience of such a traveler. Before his departure, the traveling Rotarian is urged by his fellow Rotarians to visit as many Rotary clubs as possible in his journey. He may be given the simulated “passport” available from Rotary International, as a reminder of the meeting places and times of the clubs he might visit. Over the endorsement of his club officers, it authorizes him to invite the co-operation of the clubs in international service.
When he goes into the meeting of a club in another country, he goes not as stranger or “foreigner” but as fellow-Rotarian. His conversation with neighbors at lunch, the brief remarks he may be asked to make, and the message of good will he brings from his own club are impressive. They will be remembered, especially if he is visiting a club in a smaller or more remote community. And that is not all. He may be invited to the home of a member or to his place of business. An interview may appear in the local newspaper or be broadcast over the radio. He may be taken to the school for a talk about his country.
Many Rotary clubs, because of their location near international borders, can regularly sponsor personal, face-to-face meetings with other Rotarians. Ill-will between nations is often generated by border incidents. Rotarians so located – and there are many – have a special responsibility for insuring that incidents are of the kind to foster international good will.
It can be done. It is being done all the time. Here, an international peace park bestrides a frontier as a result of Rotary sponsorship; there, a great meeting brings hundreds of Rotarians from the neighbor country year after year. School children exchange visits from country to country under rotary guidance. Airplanes are chartered to fly the whole club to another country for an inter-city meeting. The famous statue of Christ, dedicated by Rotarians of Argentina and Chile to enduring peace, towers in the highest Andes . All kinds of exchanges are fostered by the Inter-Country Committees that carry on a continuous activity in Europe . And from India comes this note of a Rotary mission to Pakistan :
Nearly 200 Rotarians from every city and town of note, representing the chivalry of Rajastan, the shrewdness of Sarastra, the business and industry of Gujarat , and the past memories of Central India wended their way to Karachi on a mission of Rotary and as ambassadors of peace and good will.
If border incidents of this kind could be multiplied, if every Rotarian who travels would undertake a Rotary mission for his club, a great advance in understanding and good will could be achieved.
“Meet they neighbor, talk with him, and there will be peace.”
An Indian Rotarian writes of this old Sanskrit proverb: “Simple language, but wonderful wealth of meaning behind it. There is, I think, not only a challenge to Rotary, but I feel that Rotary is the best equipped vehicle in the world to achieve this prime purpose of civilization.”
Not all Rotarians can journey to another land, but most of them can be hosts to those who can, or, what may be more practical, they can use the mails for fruitful and stimulating exchange. Personal acquaintance through international correspondence, as in all phases of Rotary, is not developed as an end in itself, delightful as that is, but “as an opportunity for service”. What that opportunity may be is a matter for exploration with correspondents. In one instance, there may be a contribution to better understand ding of a particularly troublesome problem. In another, the exchange of books and magazines for presentation to local libraries may be the result. Or, hearing about some effort of the other club for the welfare of its community, the Rotarian may be inspired to offer help, too. The possibilities are as infinitely varied as the needs of mankind.
Where to begin? That is the question! One Rotarian in Norway found an answer by treating himself to a world tour – addressing letters in sequence to one Rotary club after another in progression around the world. What a reception he got en route! There may be some special interest, professional or otherwise, that would lead to the choosing of a particular country as the starting point of a quest for understanding. Perhaps there is hostility toward a certain country manifested in casual conversation with a neighbor or in the remarks of a newspaper columnist or radio commentator. Why not write to Rotarians in that country with a tactful request for enlightenment?
In that event, the following statement of policy should be given close attention:
The board of directors of Rotary International shares with Rotarians everywhere deep concern over tense and troubled conditions in many parts of the world; great satisfaction in the services rendered by Rotary clubs, Rotarians and many others in relieving distress; and a clear recognition of the urgent need for understanding and good will among the peoples of the world.
The board has earnestly sought and will continue to seek every means, within the limits of established policy, to attain the objectives of Rotary International throughout the world.
The board has reviewed statements and activities of some Rotary clubs which, however well intended, in some instances have resulted in misunderstanding, ill will, and controversy.
The board urges all Rotary clubs and Rotarians to intensify their efforts to encourage and foster the advancement of understanding and good will among the peoples of the world – at all times observing established policy of Rotary International and avoiding scrupulously any act, utterance, correspondence or published statement which might have a tendency to cause misunderstanding, create ill will, or retard efforts to achieve and maintain peace.
Individual Rotarians around the world have derived rare satisfaction from correspondence on a grand scale. A Brazilian supported the cause of international understanding with 6,000 personal letters. A Rotary club in Hawaii bases the discussions of its international service committee on correspondence by its members. A Texan reports the writing of 12,000 letters with a view to promoting correspondence between young people of different countries. As one Canadian Rotarian, who was carrying on a lively exchange with 38 friends in Rotary overseas, exclaimed: “Why don’t more Rotarians start writing letters? It is no hardship and, I can assure you, very enjoyable. I can hardly wait until I get my next letter from some previously unheard from overseas club.”
More than 1,500 Rotary clubs in some 60 countries have registered their interests in the publication, “Targets for Today”, published annually and brought up to date at least once within the year with a supplement. If you are initiating correspondence, you may want to select one of those “target” clubs.
One outgrowth of correspondence may be an exchange of manuscripts, recordings, films, or slides. This practice is a favorite program technique of hundreds of clubs. The best talent of each club is enlisted for the exchange program, and direct references are often made to personalities in the other club to emphasize the feeling of fellowship. When the program from the other club is presented at a regular meeting it is introduced impressively as a notable occasion of Rotary in action. If the exchange program is in manuscript, members reading it assume the parts of the original spokesman and are introduced as such with brief biographies. The other country’s flag is displayed, its national anthem played, and a toast proposed. Local residents of that country are honored guests at the meeting and press reports of it are sent to the originating club.
Electronic magic can reproduce for Rotarians of another country the actual talk and other sounds of the club meeting. Movies or slides can bring vivid impressions of Rotary personalities and scenes in other lands. Hundreds of clubs have combined slides and recordings to make impressive and stimulating programs.
The obstacle of a different language cannot be dismissed, but it can be overcome. In many cases, the language will be understood by someone in the other club who can translate correspondence or an exchange program in manuscript for the benefit of other members. At the beginning of a correspondence, the language situation should be clarified so that each party to the exchange can feel free to use his own language.
The fruits of personal acquaintance between Rotarians of different countries may seem small in contrast with the immensity of the issues that harass the world. Greater, then, is the need to multiply and intensify these contacts. The Rotarian will not be content with one letter or one exchange of programs. He will initiate many. He will use the wonders of science to expedite his originality. Stretching out his hands in many directions, persevering with acquaintance once established, he can develop an influence that will spread over the earth.
Turning from the personal activities of Rotarians within their own ranks, what can they do to reach non-Rotarians? Or, should they?
The answer is – yes! A Rotarian represents a single business or profession – the only representative of that business or profession in his club. His obligation to carry the Rotary ideal of service to others of his profession or business as well as to the community at large is a primary concern. He will find his “personal path to peace”, but more will be accomplished if he can convince others to travel it with him.
A significant part of the impact of Rotary, then, is the extent of its influence beyond the rotary club itself. It is obvious that the object of Rotary can hardly be achieved if this influence is limited to the relatively small number of Rotarians. This imperative was plainly drawn by the bounder of Rotary. “In the promotion of international understanding and good will,” wrote Paul Harris, “one must remember that it is important to reach large numbers, non-Rotarians as well as Rotarians, and one cannot reach large numbers privately.”
Rotarians, accordingly, are challenged to open a window to the world for the people of their communities. Here, indeed, is an answer to those who question the practical effects of international service. International understanding will not be created in the stratosphere of world politics – but in the minds of neighbors, among business associates, and through local media of communication and education. Public opinion is the sum of individual opinions, and public opinion is the mightiest force on earth. Nations are as strong as the sum of individual opinions that can be mobilized in support of their policies.
Legislators and government officials are frank to admit that a single letter bearing the marks of simple sincerity and individual inspiration has more weight with them than reams of stereotyped petitions. A forthright remark in casual conversation can have profound repercussions.
In the Senate of the United States there sat for many years a Rotarian, the late Senator Charles Andrews, Florida , U.S.A. , who spoke out strongly for international understanding. He liked to tell his friends that he remembered his Rotary training whenever international relations were discussed. Asked how he got that training, he would say that it might have come from speeches on international service, but mostly it came from the table talk at the club meeting where he learned the individual sentiments of his fellow members. Little they knew the consequence of their casual comments in the preparation of a statesman.
Programs presented at weekly meetings are an excellent opportunity for sharing with non-Rotarians. Because of the scope and program of Rotary, no club can be excused for having weekly programs “just like any other club”. Programs with an international service theme will be planned around the needs of the community. The needs vary, of course, from place to place. A long look at one town may disclose deep-seated prejudices against “foreigners”. Many a Rotary club has derived satisfaction from a program that calls attention to the debt that every nation owes to the culture, the art, the science of other nations. In the progress of mankind all nations are members one of another. The same is true in mundane matters of raw materials, manufactured products, and markets. Do people recognize the extent of this interdependence? Is the worker who eats his breakfast and rides off to his work aware that neither of these functions, nor many others that fill his day, would be possible without material contributions from lands other than his own?
The interest of any community in this fact of interdependence can be aroused by an exhibit that displays the best contributions of other countries. Often these contributions are already present, yet unsuspected by most of the people. A prairie town in Canada was astonished when the rotary club arranged a folk festival – many different nationalities were represented – and an abundance of talent was displayed. Treasured costumes, folk songs and dances, souvenirs of many kinds which had been brought from other countries – all combined to transform a rather drab community into a veritable Ali Baba’s cave of cosmopolitan culture.
Other needs may relate to particular problems. What, for instance, are the attitudes toward the overwhelming issue of war or peace – hopeful, constructive, and determined in the search for positive solutions? Or resentful, fearful, and impatient – ripe for the mob hysteria that drives nations to convulsions of despair?
What can the Rotary club do to allay fears, encourage the acquiring of information, and create a climate where freedom and justice are secure? Perhaps nothing. But clubs have done such things and are doing them every day. Such projects go beyond “having a program about it” – a weekly program which can only deal briefly and superficially with the subject. Here, a program means a sustained and organized campaign in which the weekly program is merely one of the tools.
Fortunately, Rotary is not without allies for these tasks. In every community there are individuals and groups with similar purposes and with special spheres of influence whose co-operation can be sought. Rotary projects of international service can well be guided in this respect by the policy of co-operating with an existing agency, if one exists, rather than to create a new and duplicative agency.
Instances of the operation of this principle in international service abound. Perhaps the most spectacular was that initiated in 1942 by Rotarians of the London ( England ) area in organizing a conference of 21 governments to discuss cultural exchange after the war. That conference became in due course the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, more familiarly known as UNESCO, an independent agency pursuing the goals of international understanding.
Under somewhat analogous circumstances, the president of Rotary International was invited to appoint 11 United States Rotarians who, in turn, were invited to advise the Unites States delegation at the San Francisco conference where the United Nations charter was negotiated.
While Rotary International is recognized as a consultant by the United Nations and UNESCO, this fact in no way identifies Rotary with these organizations. The position was clearly set forth in the following statement by the board of directors of R.I. in January, 1952:
While R.I. neither gives nor withholds endorsement of the United Nations charter, nor of the actions or enactments of the United Nations, it does encourage Rotarians to acquaint themselves with the activities of the United Nations directed to the advancement of world peace.
The general secretary is instructed to bring to the attention of Rotary clubs program information and other helps in connection with the study of the charter and the activities of the United Nations to the advancement of world peace.
Continued publicity shall be given to the reports of observers for R.I. who attend meetings of the United Nations and its specialized agencies.
Rotarians desiring to make a proposal concerning the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies should function through the duly constituted governmental channels of their own country.
Many Rotarians around the world are active in the work of their local United Nations Associations. Many local chapters were founded as a result of the initiative of Rotarians.
An example – one of many – of an enterprise initially sponsored by Rotary clubs which evolved into community-sponsored projects is the Institutes for International Understanding. For thirteen years, an annual audience of more than a million non-Rotarians heard speakers – many of them from other countries – discuss world problems, answer questions, and meet with the assemblies of local schools. Through these meetings, hundreds of Rotary clubs were able to reach large numbers, and eventually many communities sponsored them on their own.
How a Rotary club can co-operate with many other agencies in a community to meet a need not being met by any one of them has been illustrated in an entirely novel way in several communities. Adult citizens of the community in which it began in 1957 were organized in delegations representing many nations in an into-their-shoes conference. This technique, which has been cited previously, offers promise of being an appealing and effective method for attracting “large numbers” to international service. Here is impact at its best.
For a full month, the “delegates” debate major world problems. The active interest of hundreds of participants, putting themselves “into the shoes” of a nation other than their own, is amazing. It spills over from the prescribed committee and plenary sessions into countless private gatherings and conversations that seek to win support for recommendations. Here is active self-education, replacing the passive indoctrination by pressure groups. Most significant of all perhaps is the personal acquaintance developed among people representing widely different views.
Does this experience provide a pattern that Rotary clubs around the world can adapt to their purposes? All that is needed is the initial impetus.
Turning to the leaders of tomorrow, there is no end to ways in which Rotary clubs, with their world-wide affiliations, can contribute to the education of the rising generation. Sponsoring an international relations club is a common practice. Pen friendships are arranged for youth through Rotary clubs abroad. Japanese clubs, for instance, have excited wide interest with an exchange of drawings by school children. International essay contests to promote a better understanding are often a joint project undertaken by the rotary clubs in different countries.
Without interfering in any sense with the curriculum of the schools, teachers or administrators might be asked to tell the Rotary club how children are being informed about the world. Is the approach universal or provincial, as illustrated in the story told by a former American ambassador to India ? His son, fresh from Asian experiences, was about to enter an American school.
“I’ll make a bet,” said the ambassador, “that the world history which you will study begins in Egypt and Mesopotamia, moves on to Greece by way of Crete, takes you through Rome and finally ends with France and England.”
“But that is not world history,” argued his son. “That leaves out three-fourths of the world.”
“Unfortunately,” the father remarks, “I won the bet.”
The exchange of youth has offered the greatest challenge to Rotary clubs. In this field Rotary has pioneered with countless club and district sponsorships of various types of exchange and with the Rotary Foundation Fellowships which began in 1947.
The promise inherent in the Rotary Foundation program has appealed to Rotarians around the world. More than 1,200 graduate students have studied in countries other than their own, under Rotary sponsorship. Incidents culled from their reports and from the comments of others could fill volumes. Each year they address audiences totalling more than half a million. Even more minds are reached by radio and through articles they write for many publications. And of no less significance are the evidences of character and ability reflected in their activities. Truly, they are among tomorrow’s leaders.
One feature makes the Rotary Foundation Fellowships program unique: the degree of personal interest, friendship, and guidance that is forthcoming from Rotarians who “host” them in their academic communities, who take them into their homes and show them truly how the community works. Not all Rotarians avail themselves of this unique opportunity for helping to train future leaders, but most of them do.
Rotarians will derive a dividend from their investments in The Rotary Foundation to the extent that they take advantage of the opportunity to use the capacities and influence the thinking of these potential ambassadors of good will. Many Fellows have expressed their feelings about this opportunity, but it was never more charmingly set forth than by a young lady addressing one of the clubs in Australia :
In San Francisco it has been jokingly said that when they built the Golden Gate bridge, a thread was tied round a pigeon’s leg. The pigeon flew across the bay and when he reached the other side a heavy cord was tied on to the string and pulled across. After the cord they pulled a small cable and then a still heavier one until finally the cable that holds the Golden Gate bridge was strung across.
I like to think that the Rotary Foundation Fellowships are a bit like that. They are the thread that will mark increasing exchanges between students of all countries who desire a deeper understanding of each other. It is just a thread now, but each year it is growing stronger and stronger. Next year perhaps it will be a rope, and finally it must be a big cable bridging the gap between the nations and binding us all together in a peaceful world. I am proud and grateful for the privilege of being part of this great movement in furthering international understanding.
Rotary clubs have not only contributed generously to The Rotary Foundation but also they have used their own resources and ingenuity to set up and sponsor their own exchange of youth. While The Rotary Foundation has sponsored the exchange of graduate students, the great preponderance of club and district projects have involved undergraduate or secondary students. The study and travel of more than 10,000 young persons are sponsored by clubs and districts each year!
One such project has been in continuous operation since 1944, and its sponsors comment, “Our only regret is that we did not start something of this kind 25 years ago”. Another district project which has brought nearly 300 students to America from a score of countries involves joint sponsorship by the district and individual clubs. A principal advantage claimed for this plan is the intense interest developed by these clubs in their “own” students.
Increasingly, individual clubs are discovering that the sponsoring of visits by youth from abroad is well within their capacity. These plans put personal service ahead of purse service. The youth is lodged in the homes of Rotarians. The local school, in many instances, is happy to provide free tuition for the sake of the cosmopolitan influence, and the offer of such an opportunity enables Rotary clubs of other lands to select a fine representative youth from many applicants who are eager and able to pay their own travel expenses. Thereby, the cost of such projects to the sponsoring clubs is limited to incidentals. One club brought 11 students from nine countries for a year to its community.
In Europe , youth exchange is a well-established practice. Rotary district governors appoint committees to make the arrangements. Often the exchange involves only the cost of travel. The experience of home life in another country, the opportunity to learn another language, and the cementing of Rotary fellowship across national boundaries are only a few of the benefits. International tours and summer camps have multiplied in Europe . One example of how they are appreciated is the story of the Austrian lad who rode his bicycle all the way to Holland to join an international cruise aboard a Dutch vessel.
The instrument of personal acquaintance works most effectively in these summer camps. As one German boy wrote of his experience:
This camp has done more for international understanding than a big number of politicians could do in a year. If there is a possibility to form a united Europe , then it can only be done when all the different nations will be able to overcome their prejudices. I am sure that the Rotary club camp really was successful in overcoming these prejudices, and that this is not all an exaggeration of mine.
When all is said and done, the personal touch is what counts in these international student projects. Hordes of young people are shuttled across the seven seas in vain if no effort is made to train them for international service.
While the Rotary Foundation Fellowships and other Rotary-sponsored visits provide a natural focus for this effort, there is a broader field in the thousands of students and trainees going abroad each year under other schemes or on their own often slender resources. Many of them seldom see much of the country they visit, or the people. Among the thousands of such visitors to the U.S.A. in a year, it is estimated that 80 per cent never see the inside of an American home. Probably the situation is not much different in other lands.
The importance of building friendships in this way becomes evident when it is remembered how many national leaders – how many Nehrus, how many Nkrumahs and others – once lived abroad. If they experienced isolation, loneliness, and discrimination, the world could suffer deeply from those wounds. A Mexican statesman who made great contributions to international understanding recalls the years of loneliness spent in a hall bedroom in New York City . Only the kindness of some neighbors in the tenement rescued him from a feeling of bitterness which might have warped his whole career.
The Rotarian who introduces a visiting student to normal home life and to his neighbors, shows him how business is done, and shares with him the simple pleasures of everyday life is not only making a friend for himself – he may be doing his country and the world a great service. His discussions of world problems with the youth may bear fruit in a career of leadership in the cause of peace.
But the greatest challenge, of course, is to those Rotary clubs in neighborhood of universities. Theirs is a continuous and developing opportunity to organize acquaintance with students from abroad. Rotarians meet these opportunities well and wisely. Students by the hundreds are entertained during holiday seasons; churches and schools call upon them to interpret their countries in song and story; individuals are generous in their financial and spiritual solicitude. Admitting all this with pride, however, does not minimize the necessity of doing more!
Doing more in all activities reflected in the “looking glass” becomes a personal challenge to the Rotarian who reads his official magazine and other rotary publications. In an organization of the scope and size of Rotary, communication is basic. To know what others are doing, to understand how they did it – this becomes a challenge and an inspiration, for if the idea became reality in Hyderabad , it might have appeal in Huntsville .
Rotary’s growth and success, after all, have come from the leavening of the spirit of service, and every success story speaks boldly, “You can do this, too – and better.” And in the processes of communication and inspiration Rotary’s official magazine – The Rotarian in English and Revista Rotaria in Spanish – makes the major impact. Twenty-two regional magazines also make impact in their limited spheres.
Rotary publications present facts and reflect ideas which have more than Rotary appeal. Hundreds of copies of Rotary books, magazines, and pamphlets are shared with non-Rotarians around the world. When these publications find their way into almost a half million homes of Rotarians, they have just begun their journey.
The magazine, for example, goes in large numbers to schools, public libraries, hospitals, reading rooms, and in hundreds of other places where accurate, readable, and constructive reporting is highly valued. Its articles are the bases for excellent rotary club programs, for women’s social and study club programs, and for young people’s discussion groups. It provides references for educational reports in schools and colleges, and radio and television programs are based on its articles.
Beyond these uses, however, in its two editions it is the “textbook”, or a vital supplement to the textbook, in hundreds of classes where students are learning a new language. Its impact is enhanced by its being the only such magazine indexed by the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature, and its influence is attested to by thousands of article reprints which are requested by Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike.
These, then, have been some of the images reflected in the looking glass – several of the acts of service which enrich the life of the individual Rotarian. No person, no publication, could chronicle all of them. No one can even cite examples of all of them. The nature of Rotary itself and the nature of the Rotarians who make up this organization make the gathering of stories of service very difficult. The service of Rotarians is likely to be quiet service. And this is as it should be.
International service in Rotary is not the sound of trumpets. It heralds no pronouncements. It seeks no headlines. Accordingly, this book has merely set forth, developed, and illustrated several of the principles in which Rotarians believe and around which they take their stand, as individual citizens. The result of more than a half century of successful experience, these principles may be worth consideration by persons who do not belong to Rotary clubs. For Rotary neither holds their exclusive possession nor claims their original creation.
An “international walk” graces the broad plaza leading to the headquarters building of Rotary International. From the marble quarries that yielded stone for the Parthenon, from the floor of Westminster Abbey, from cliffs two miles above the sea in the Peruvian Andes – from most of the lands where Rotary is at work have come its square-cut paving stones.
They form a colorful pattern: red from Australia , yellow from France , dark gray from Singapore , cherry-pink from Japan , bird-blue from Sweden . To withstand the strains of climate, only the most durable stones were selected, and embedded in each is a metal plaque telling the country, the year of Rotary’s arrival, and the name of its first club.
Joined together in common service, these stones are silent but enduring witness to Rotary’s methods and goals. They symbolize service and friendship around the world. They connote action, for either the broad or narrow path is useless unless there are persons willing to travel it.