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Rotary's Power for World Peace
|Fear and Hate Must Go!
And they will go when nations have goodwill based
on understanding, says the world’s first Rotarian.
By Paul P. Harris
a certain distinguished scientist was asked what coming invention would
mean most to mankind, he answered, "I don't think that any invention
will mean so much to mankind as the discovery of a better way to get
He was gravely disturbed by a world gone war‑mad. He had asked himself - as we all should - this question: What profiteth it that industry produce great wealth if all must be dissipated in a few hysterical months?
How can we find a better way to get along together?
There's the Golden Rule, but every nation believes its way is the Golden Rule way. Sir Norman Angell has wisely observed that no nation, however aggressive and inhuman its course may be, is conscious of guilt; its people are taught that they are superior to all others and that destiny calls them to lead. Most nations are overeducated in their virtues and undereducated in their vices.
Travel is a good corrective for this type of mental near‑sightedness - if the traveller will cast aside his prejudices. People will see what they look for, the ugly or the beautiful. If they seek things to condemn, they will find them in plenty and return home more prejudiced and arrogant than ever.
Open‑mindedness and tolerance are earmarks of the Rotary approach to the problem. Clubs exist in some 60 nations and opportunities for discord abound. But though membership includes representatives of all religious and political parties, discord is rare in Rotary.
Even in India, the land of irreconcilables, unspeakables, untouchables, and unthinkables, Rotary thrives like a green bay tree. When the first Club was to be established there, in Calcutta, Lord Reading, Viceroy of India, was consulted. His lordship expressed the opinion that such an organization would do much for India if successful; as to its success, he manifestly harbored grave doubts. At the present time there are 50 vigorous Rotary Clubs in India, and many more are in prospect.
The Rotary way works! But Rotary has no patent on it, for it is but the Golden Rule in action. Any person, any nation, can apply it by displacing negative hatred and fear with goodwill based upon understanding.
Peace among nations is not impossible of attainment; they can find peace if they will.
Here's the way wars come: Civilization has attained dizzy heights, granaries are full to overflowing, spindles are working day and night, universities and colleges are pouring graduates into the stream of productive life, when a mischief maker enters. He works his way into the inner offices of journalists; into legislative halls; into the studies of ministers, poets, and philosophers; into the homes of farmers, craftsmen, and laborers, even into prisons and flophouses. He comes in the guise of patriotism, but his real name is Fear. Cringing at first, Fear is flattered by favorable acceptance, then becomes arrogant and begets Hatred.
Fear and Hatred quickly find helpers. They are abetted, for example, by unscrupulous news gatherers whose most urgent purpose is to excite people. These men play on the fact that at times of hysteria the credulity of their readers is unlimited, and write implausible and fantastic tales. Excitement sells newspapers - and the vicious cycle is accelerated. But the blame must be put not alone on the journalistic Esaus, but on all intelligent men who fail to combat the rise of Fear and Hatred.
Fear and Hatred brought on World War II which destroyed millions of precious lives. Some whose lives were snuffed out would have become immortals Pasteurs, Mozarts, Tennysons, and Edisons. They would have enriched civilization; they would have been world assets.
War always is a ghastly blunder; even the winners lose. To avoid the "next one" we must begin now.
WHY should our children not learn of the contributions to civilization made by all other nations as well as those of our own? Why should they not know that the world in which we live is a predatory world and that even their own dear country has been predatory at times? If truth is worth while, why not the whole truth? Why not be realistic? If men cannot become better, they can at least become wiser.
We have our military academies and naval schools and in course of time doubtless will have permanent schools for the training of combat airmen, Why not a school to teach young men the art of peace, the causes of wars and the economic considerations which so frequently cause them?
The United States has a Secretary of War, a Secretary of the Navy, and a Secretary of Air doubtless coming. Why not a Secretary of Peace to lead the way to peaceful settlement of international controversies?
In Rotary we have had 41 years of service in building a fellowship the members of which represent divergent races and religions and political faiths. Rotary has never, so far as I know, lost one of its more than 5,000 Clubs because of internal religious or political differences.
Rotary begins its work in each country with courtesy, kindliness, and friendliness and it tries never to deviate from that course. But far too often politicians and so‑called diplomats begin with taut nerves and with ill‑concealed suspicion. Too frequently they play to the galleries of voters back home instead of devoting efforts to the promotion of international understanding and goodwill. Even friendly nations are not always spared. They scourge them to the delight of sensation‑seeking commentators and correspondents. Let each of us remove the beam from our own eyes before we attempt to remove the motes from the eyes of others.
The best way of preserving democracy is by making it work. By its fruits ye shall know it. High standards of living will proclaim its worth and will win it friends. Even experiments which do not succeed in raising standards of living nevertheless serve the purpose of increasing the world's fund of knowledge.
Civilization profits by mistakes as well as by successes. It would neither be necessary nor possible to put all nations in a common mold. So let's be patient and kindly and cultivate international good manners.
It is not enough merely to refrain from speaking disparagingly of other rations; we must make friendly overtures to them. It has been my privilege to plant in the name of Rotary trees of friendship in parks and playgrounds on all the continents of the earth. Governments have participated in these events and school children have been taught that Rotary trees are symbols of goodwill so future generations will nurse them and care for them.
These tree plantings are gestures merely of goodwill, but how much better than criticisms and unkind remarks!
Animadversions against Russia are today being inspired by intolerance and forgetfulness, if not ignorance, of the facts. He who knows the conditions of Russia prior to World War I as portrayed by Russia's great novelists Tolstoy and Dostoeveski cannot fall to know that revolution was Russia's only way out and that the present order is definitely better than the one that preceded it. But all that aside, Russia has a right to its ideology as the democratic nations have a right to theirs.
We know that the Russian ideology would not do for those who have had centuries of experience with the ways of democracy, but it may prove to be the one best suited to Russians. Russia has a long tradition of friendliness with the United States, and therefore the United States has a special responsibility for perpetuating it, as General Eisenhower has pointed out.
The United States needs Russia as customer, ally, and friend. Shall these advantages be lost by blundering? The friendly way is a good policy for all and particularly appropriate for the United States, the boasted land of religious and political freedom.
Have the United Nations undertaken the impossible? I maintain that they have not. My 41 years promoting international understanding and goodwill in the ranks of Rotary gives me courage to insist that the plan of the United Nations is not an idle dream: that it is practical and, given half a chance, it will succeed.
Fortunately, in the Pan American Union of the States of the Western Hemisphere, the United Nations have a convincing illustration of the practicability of cooperation between nations. All that is necessary is to include all nations, draw a larger circle, one large enough to let all nations in, and then to make them welcome.
To those who really believe in the avowed principles of the United Nations, a matter of great concern is the genuineness and wholeheartedness of the invitation extended to Russia. Differences in language, customs, and ideologies all tend toward an Anglo‑Saxon bloc. Suspicions in international affairs are easily aroused. Every meeting of the Great Powers without the presence of Russia is a narrowing of the circle. Whatever good that might be accomplished by meetings of the two powers is more than offset by the fact that they constitute fertile ground for the growth of suspicions. Better, by far, to await Russia's presence.
If our international leaders do not understand that principle, let them ask any schoolboy ; he will put them straight.
Representatives of a country abroad should be men of education and refinement. They should have the instincts of gentlemen. That pertains not only to special representatives who serve in the present international conferences, but also to all ambassadors and career consuls. I have met some who reflect credit on the country they represent and others who do their respective countries irreparable injury. Bad manners are unfortunate even in home matters; when dealing with international affairs, they are damnable. An epidemic of good manners might appropriately follow our epidemic of suspicions and fears.
RUSSIA'S courageous fighting saved the Allies thousands if not millions of lives in the two World Wars. We cannot afford to take chances on disaffection of Russia. The United Nations will be safe if Russia is with us, but not safe if Russia is not with us. Leagues of Nations break up quickly at times. If Russia were to turn from the United Nations to a resurrected Germany in the years before us, Europe could be swept clean summarily.
The United Nations need all their power, and they must use it in the interest of all. The purposes must be noble and unselfish. We must help all nations in distress and raise the standards of living of the lowly. If we steadfastly pursue this course, prosperity such as we have never enjoyed before will be ours, the wheels of industry will be kept turning, and all nations will be friends.
What a blessing it would be to live in a friendly world, where all nations are good neighbors!
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