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Rotary's Power for World Peace

We Must Plan for Peace

 

By Paul P. Harris

Founder and President Emeritus
of Rotary International

 

To my friends, Rotarians of all points of the compass, warm greetings on the occasion of our 35th anniversary. My Jean and I regret that it is not possible to greet each and every one of you at our fireside, where we could sit in comfort and talk things over.

 

This is a critical year. It is not easy to be optimists while storm, clouds obscure the sky. Rotarians are especially sensitive to international disturbances because ties of friendship bind us together, ties which cannot be dissolved by governmental fiat.

 

Civilized nations are at war and we who are living in peace sympathize with those who are less fortunate. We know that untold numbers of sleepless fathers and mothers toss about on rumpled sheets and tear‑drenched pillows and pray for dawn. How slowly move the hands of the clock, how weary the waiting for the break of day!

 

Yet is there no light in the east? I think there is light discernible.

 

The day of arrogant indifference to public opinion seems to have passed. Nations now plead their respective cases before the greatest jury ever impanelled. It is composed of men and women of high ideals in every land. No nation can be indifferent to their verdict. It has already condemned the use of poison gases and the bombing of helpless women and children. Even so‑called "war news" which is so copiously showered down from heaven has now to be seasoned with a dash of impartiality and a pinch of plausibility.

 

But, we ask, must the best genius of men be devoted to the science of war and none to the science of averting it?

 

The president of the Rockefeller Foundation and the president of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace answer: "No, there still is hope." In 1938 the Rockefeller Foundation spent $3,800,000 in the support of the social sciences, of which sum more than $800,000 was spent for work in international relations. During the past few years the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace has published 150 books, the work of historians of many nations, clarifying the political and economic forces which have had influence on war and on peace.

 

President Raymond Fosdick, of the Rockefeller Foundation, uses these words: "If the problems arising out of human relations are to be solved at all, it will be through the same scientific approach to facts made in the same dispassionate spirit of inquiry which has given man command over his physical environment."

 

Is this statement not thought provoking? Where would material progress have been today had it not been for the cool, calculating, unprejudiced, and unimpassioned science? Where our telegraphs, our telephones, radio, automobiles, airplanes? Should we not be thankful that at last the social sciences at least have enlisted in the cause of peace?

 

While we are still groping for light we look to history for precedent. There is encouragement to lovers of peace in the study of the peace terms imposed by General Grant on General Lee at Appomattox. It is refreshing to remember that the armies of the Confederacy were allowed to retain their "mules and horses because they would soon be needed for the Spring plowing." And the Confederate armies were given "25,000 rations," which General Lee proclaimed to be "more than was needed." And do we remember that when the North was thrown into a frenzy of emotionalism and grief by the assassination of the immortal Abraham Lincoln, his successor, President Andrew Johnson, demanded the trial of General Lee and others for treason, whereupon Grant declared that it would be in violation of the peace terms which he and Lee had signed and that he would resign from his post if the recommendation were made effective?

 

One more quotation, the well-known words of President Lincoln's second inaugural address: "With malice toward none, with charity for all" and, again, "to do all which may achieve a just and lasting peace among ourselves and all nations."

 

I have just been reading a symposium of letters from the Governors of Rotary International residing in various countries of Europe. All are free from bitterness. Their restraint, to me, is amazing. There is most naturally an undertone of sadness, but there is also hope of peace. None seems in doubt as to the course which Rotary should pursue, and that is the course it always has pursued: the promotion of understanding and goodwill.

 

Surely, if the spirit of these letters can find expression in peace terms when they are written and if the vanquished, if there must be such, are greeted as brothers, not as culprits, enduring peace will ensue.

 

In the inspired words of an editorial in The Rotary Wheel, the organ of Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland:

 

"Let us stand for a peace of unrevengeful justice and of fellowship reestablished."

 

Dr. Wolfgang Ziegler 4 July 2006

The picture of Paul and Jean was opposite the article. Above
the picture is written: "Paul and Jean at Home", below:
"Call with us at Comely Bank" in Morgan Park, Chicago. The
Harrises at home ... beside their window which looks out on
Friendship Garden. In simple, soft-soled comfort, the man who
gave men the window to friendship they call Rotary, reads from
the Bard of Ayr ... while his helpmate, listening, embroiders a
heather bloom. In her mind may be an earlier Comely Bank, the
street of her girlhood in far-off Edinburgh. Here is a couple loved
round the world, as the trees in their garden betoken. For 26
years friends from every strand have been planting this living
Rotary shrine. Paul favors evergreens because - "They are beautiful
the year around."

 

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