Message to the 1927
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Message to the 1927
GOOD WILL TO ALL

By Paul P. Harris,
President Emeritus Rotary International

To my friends who under the leadership of our peerless President, Harry Rogers, are in attendance at the Eighteenth Annual Convention of Rotary International at Ostend, Belgium, greetings and good will to all.

Centuries have come and gone since the immortal words: "On earth peace, good will toward men" first fell from the lips of men; centuries of yearning, reaching and groping for an ever elusive ideal.

A mother whispers the blessed words to listening children gathered at her knees - "Peace, peace on earth" and far away in another land, no less fair, no less honorable, comes the answer from the lips of another mother and other children: "Good will toward all men." The children of the one land think of the children of the other as children of the one father, blest with the inheritance of peace. The words: "On earth peace, good will toward men" are simple words, little children know their meaning.

But children advance in years and sooner or later, they must meet life's tragedy, the tragedy of misunderstanding. Understanding is constructive; misunderstanding is the shortest and straightest road to destruction. Understanding makes for peace, misunderstanding makes for war. Understanding for prosperity, misunderstanding for poverty. The greatest resource which a nation can have is the resource of peace; it counts for more than arable lands, more than mines of untold riches.

But there's the tragedy, the tragedy of misunderstanding and growing children must meet it some day unless unless ‑ we stop to think.

Schools and colleges have been dedicated to the interests of war. Who will dedicate the first school to the interests of peace? He need expect no hero's medal for war is patriotic, while peace at best is despicable, at worst, treason.

The word "pacifist" is the most opprobrious epithet which one human can hurl at another.

Neither crashing bands nor military splendor herald the approach of peace. Peace must be humble, patient and bide its time. When nations have become war weary, they are ready for peace.

What patriot first conceived the glory of war and the humility of peace?

There's the tragedy, the world's greatest tragedy, the tragedy of misunderstanding; how is it to be overcome?

A condition which has existed for generations cannot be cured in a day. Future historians may not be able to credit this age or generation with the accomplishment of the desired result. This generation may possibly be given the honor of having laid the first stable foundation for international peace; if so, this generation will have had honor enough.

"Man know thyself" was the adjuration of the philosopher. To know ourselves is to know ourselves in our relationship with others; no one sided knowledge will serve.

Education has lifted man out of the jungle; it can raise him to permanent peace.

Let us destroy the foes to understanding. The three generals in command of
the destructive forces are:

Suspicion
Jealousy and
Fear

Let us stimulate and encourage the constructive forces and place in their command, the three greatest generals the world has ever known:

Faith
Love and
Courage

How can these things be accomplished? Let us begin with our schools.

The classification "Educating" is one of the largest and most important in Rotary. In the educational section are included the names of a large percentage of the most influential educators in the countries where Rotary is now established. In some cities, the school superintendent and all members of the board of education are Rotarians. The minds of the coming generation will bear the imprint of Rotary.

The press is the most powerful agency in the formation of public opinion. What the schools are to the juvenile mind, the press is to the adult mind.

The newspaper classification is generally open to all local newspapers and frequently representatives of all of the daily papers of a city are members of the Rotary Club.

In lesser degree the influence of Rotary has already been felt in the pulpit, in moving pictures, radio programs on the lecture platform and in other places where public opinion is formed.

By such means, Rotary can advance the cause which found perfect expression in the words: "On earth peace, good will toward men" at a time when civilization was still in its infancy.
May we all, Christian, Jew, Mohammedan, Buddhist, Confucian, Agnostic and Infidel stand for once, shoulder to shoulder and humbly, reverently, hopefully repeat the words: "On earth peace, good will toward men."

PAUL HARRIS. 


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