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Peace Will Come

 

By Tom J. Davis

President, Rotary International

 

A realistic but hopeful view of the future wherein Rotary's new President sees the demand for hard work now

 

THE CARNAGE of war and the suffering in its wake are not new. Every age since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary has known the conflict of ideas and the clash of arms. Yet never in the past has the world contained so many frictional points as irritate it today. Once again a complexity of these frictions has set off a world war—a world war with all the threatening aspects of a worldwide revolution. From it, all peoples will emerge poorer.

 

Rotary could not have prevented this war. Rotary cannot stop it. What, then, is the place of our movement of 210,000 business and professional men and 5,000 Clubs in this world at war?

 

Rotary's task is to plan now for peace. For peace will come. Whether it will come in one year, five years, or 15 years, no man can say—but we dare not use that uncertainty as an excuse for inaction.

 

This time a mere holiday from war will not satisfy. The peoples of the world will demand a just peace—a peace based upon the dignity of the human soul and framed for the economic and spiritual happiness of all. If they do not get it, worse wars will follow.

 

So there is a job to do now— and I call upon you, my fellow Rotarians, to help and to lead in the doing of it. What is that job? It is the systematic removal of those points of friction, which cause wars and foredoom peace treaties to failure. That is largely a hometown job.

 

You know your problem better than I. You know the roots of restlessness in your town as I know them in mine, and as business and professional leaders, we can help to eradicate them. The problem goes back, does it not, to what men want? What does a normal man want? In simplest terms, he wants a job and some assurance of continued work, a chance for his children, independence when he is old, and he would like to feel a part, not a chattel, of his employer's business. He wants security.

 

Does every deserving man in your town and mime have it? Security for all, Labor Minister Ernest Bevin recently told the Rotary Club of London, is what Britain is fighting for. How to guarantee that security without taking away, in exchange, the precious, hard-won rights of the individual is the troubling issue.

 

When peace does come, great problems, which are only the extensions of man's individual problems, will come with it: The just distribution and allocation of raw materials—imperative if nations are to survive. The reopening of world trade channels (will all the old bottlenecks and barriers on land and sea still be there?). The sudden stoppage of the gigantic arms industry. The demobilization of millions of fine young men. The vast problem of cushioning the financial shock that peace is almost certain to bring.

But what, specifically, of our own beloved Rotary as a movement in the days ahead? It will do best, it seems clear, to consolidate the gains it has made, to emphasize quality as against quantity. Certainly, where areas still lie open and awaiting the Rotary seed, let us plant new Clubs. Many should spring up in the Americas to help bond the peoples of the long continent. Let us continue and enlarge the multitude of our quiet, concrete services. The needs of youth challenge us particularly. The times are a test of its faith in us who are older. Youth wants no coddling. It does want understanding. Rotarians, as the friends of youth, the employers of youth, and the dads of youth, know what's to be done.

 

You and I know Rotary's limitations—but we also know its capacities. We know that we can do something. With a world full of reasons for pessimism, I am not pessimistic. For my faith in the ultimate triumph of goodness and kindliness is as deep as my faith in a Power infinitely greater than man's. Yet in that faith I find no excuse, no reason, for resignation.

 

THEY TELL a story in my Montana town, which, I understand, has won wide circulation in a recent clever book. Not so many years ago, in Butte, we smelted copper ores in huge "stink piles," heaps of ore and wood that smoldered all around the city. The sulphurous and arsenical fumes, and smoke, which arose from them, joining with fog, often made Butte dark at midday. Because of this, our vegetation was scarce indeed. One day an old English miner came to Butte. The grimness of Butte palled upon him. He rented a small shack upon the hill, and in the yard back of it he found rocks and weeds. He removed the rocks and weeds, put in some fertilizer and seed, and then watered the plot the whole summer long. It blossomed into a beautiful garden. All Butte went to see it. One day his minister called, and, wishing to drive home a spiritual truth, said, "Bill, it seems to me that God and you have done a great job with this garden."

 

Bill, silent for a moment, replied, "Yes, but you should have seen it when only God had it."

 

 

 

      Attorney Tom J. Davis, of Butte, Montana, at midnight on 30 June 1941, attained Rotary's highest office, the international Presidency. This is his unveiling of his program of work for the 1941-1942 Rotary year. His motto, or emphasis for the year? “Peace Will Come.” Page 7 of the July 1941 issue of The Rotarian.

 

Doug Rudman

Wolfgang Ziegle


 

 

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