Posted by Wesley Sim on Feb 26, 2019
Back to Basics

A couple of weeks ago, I listened with interest, on ABC Radio, to a discussion on how a rural town is bucking the trend of declining population, an issue that has been troubling roughly 70% of Australia’s rural communities for many decades. What were they doing different? Apparently, it was as simple as going back to the basics of being what a country town is supposed to be. Is there a lesson there for us as Rotarians?
114 years and 3 days ago (23/2/1905), Paul Harris formed the Rotary Club of Chicago so that professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.
We have today, a fast-paced, fad-driven society where new networking groups are constantly popping up only to be replaced by another not too long after. In a similar fashion, special interest groups and emotionally charged charities capable of attracting large amounts of donations through crowdfunding are constantly biting at the heels of established charities, sometimes to the detriment of much needed services elsewhere. Fortunately, with their hearts in the right places and a determination to make a lasting impact, some do go on to become significant contributors to good in our community.
Our challenge as a century-old organisation is to continue to muster the resources required to continue achieving the good long after others have come and gone. There’s that constant temptation to look sideways and duplicating what others are doing, attracted by the satisfaction of quickly achievable goals. If that was Rotary, my children would still be familiar with an Iron Lung and we would still be faced with the constant threat of polio. Can Rotary be relevant without becoming somebody else?
As Rotarians around the world celebrate the 114th Anniversary of Rotary, I thought it appropriate to ask ourselves this question: “Are we still fulfilling our objectives or are we becoming distracted with fads?” Perhaps, this is a timely reminder for us to refocus on what we’re doing to make this world a better place and grow Rotary by being attractive that way.
“Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves.” Paul Harris, Founder
Yours in Rotary,
Wesley Sim- President - Rotary of Perth 2018/2019