Peregrinations - Volume II* "En route to the park [Koala
Park] we attended a meeting of the Rotary Club of Parramatta, where I
was cured of an indisposition by the friendly spirit and good cheer
which characterized the meeting. I was glad to meet Rotarians of North
Sydney once again. After the meeting I planted
another friendship tree in a public park.
After the planting I had a friendly talk with a minister
who had attended the meeting at Parramatta. He thought it an excellent
meeting but thought that it would have been fine if the members had sung
some song of international purport rather than the national anthem. I
had given much thought to the matter and was in full agreement with him.
Rotary is an international movement, and I do not think that it would
dilute anyone's sense of patriotism if he were to sing weekly a song,
the sentiment of which would be acceptable throughout the world. Perhaps
I can best illustrate what I mean by indicating sentiments which are
sometimes expressed in song and which obviously cannot be expected to
meet with universal favor -- 'Deutschland Über alles,' 'England,
Mistress of the Seas,' and "America, the home of the brave.' The latter
is less flagrant, perhaps, than the first two but the implication that
one must come to America to find men who are brave naturally would not
always be favorably received.
Some may think that I have drawn my sights too fine, that
few, if any, would feel as I do about the matter. I am convinced,
however, that there are a considerable number who do. Now that I, an
American, have spoken, I will summon an Australian Rotarian who said 'I
never see an American flag without experiencing a sense of irritation;
we all speak on language;' and a highly educated Chinese Rotarian who
said, ' We are tired of drinking toasts to the King.'
Of course the views of the Australian would wound any
American who loves his flag. They left me, I am sorry to say, speechless.
By the same token, the words of the Chinese Rotarian would jar the
sensibilities of any Englishman.
God forbid that I write anything calculated to dilute the
love of any man for his country; it is because of my realization of the
fact that one's love of his country is sacred that I find myself in
sympathy with the Rotarian from Parramatta who thinks that an
international fellowship might well confine itself to the expression of
universally acceptable sentiments in song and in toast.