I like to understand things before I make any commitment. Joining Rotary meant I had to understand exactly why I was joining and what I was committed to. Let's be selfish here too, what's in it for me? Getting up earlier than normal one day a week isn't really very demanding but even so - I like my sleep!
I didn't join on the first meeting. In fact I think it was about 3 meetings before I confirmed I'd join and completed the application form. I had to find out what Rotary was about and why. As a large organisation it does have an objective, simply called the "Object of Rotary". Read it, and you'll know why it took me a few weeks to understand it!
The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:
- FIRST. The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
- SECOND. High ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian's occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
- THIRD. The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian's personal, business, and community life;
- FOURTH. The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
"foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise"? Sentances like that make me think I should have studied English to a higher level at school. It sort of makes sense to me at the same time as being completely meaningless! Fortunately, I didn't get to read those in isolation. Speaking with Jarle and other members (new members as well as existing Rotary members from other clubs supporting the creation of a new club) it became apparent the Object of Rotary is to do good things in the community. Community being local, national and international. Perhaps the most important thing that became apparent to me was the infrastructure that enabled those things to happen. A club doesn't run in isolation. The aim of doing good things is supported by Rotarians working at a collective, let's say, management level to further the aims of the organisation. That leads me nicely onto what Rotary describe as the "Aveunes of Service"
Based on the Object of Rotary, the Avenues of Service are Rotarys philosophical cornerstone and the foundation on which club activity is based:
- Club Service focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club.
- Vocational Service encourages Rotarians to serve others through their vocations and to practice high ethical standards.
- Community Service covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community.
- International Service encompasses actions taken to expand Rotarys humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.
The club service element positively encourages things to run smoothly. I can appreciate an organisation that includes it's administration processes as an integral part of its aims. The more I'm involved in Rotary, the more I see an impressive infrastructure for organising huge events by spreading the load effectively over a large number of commited people.
The "what's in it for me?" question is also covered by the word "fellowship" in that line. The people I've met in and through Rotary have all been nice people. The reward for being so community spirited is meeting lots of like minded people. I've had interesting conversations with Rotarians in my own club and in other clubs, sharing experiences, knowledge and their opinions on the way things are. I've also found it interesting that so far I haven't seen too much politics getting in the way of the Object. People have differing opinions but seem to understand the importance of of the object of service over the detail that allows things to functions. One good example of this is when I visited another club. For that story though you'll have to read this later blog posting. For now, the summary of this post is that Rotary is an organisation I felt comfortable joining.