I’m Young. I’m in Rotary. Here’s Why.
Rotary is weird. Rotarians are old, mostly. They sing songs like “America The Beautiful” and pray and say the pledge of allegiance before meetings. They tell lame jokes. They organize highway trash cleanups, blood drives and literacy fairs. They raise money for students to study abroad and open their homes to foreign students studying here. They are fixated on eradicating Polio. Yes, Polio is still a thing.
Rotary’s old fashioned. It’s not the hippest of scenes.
But it’s authentic. It offers a regular opportunity to accomplish real and lasting good in my community as well as abroad.
In this age of political divisiveness and social discord in the US and around the world, Rotary offers a neutral space where people can gather together regularly and focus on what really matters: making the world a better place.
Politically I might not see eye to eye with everyone in my club. I’m not Facebook friends with most of them. In fact — many of the folks in my club don’t even have social media accounts.
But too often we use social media to create echo chambers of our own opinion. We weed out those who disagree with our chosen worldview. We spend so much time trying to create an online experience that doesn’t challenge the way we think that we refuse to look at the world as it is.
Online petitions change little. Strongly-worded comments on Facebook, Twitter or Reddit never filled a hungry belly or sheltered a shivering child.
In reality, change isn’t accomplished by working independently from those who disagree with us. We cannot create a real, effective path forward without first building consensus.
Under the auspices of Rotary’s Four Way Test the table is set to have a real, face-to-face dialogue about how we can come together and benefit our community and our world in real ways.
Now more than ever organizations like Rotary International are integral to the maintenance of the very fabric of civilized society. Social media is good for a lot of things, but it’s not good for breaking down the walls we build up between us.
If we forget how or refuse to engage in real-life conversations we run the risk of forgetting that those who disagree with us are real people — not just adversaries lurking among the ether of the internet.
So if you care about your community and the world in which we live, I encourage you to join a service club like Rotary or to volunteer in your community in some real, concrete way. You’ll get as much or more out of it as the people you help, and it will remind you that there’s more that connects us than separates us.
I’m a proud member of Wenatchee North Rotary and serve as secretary for that club, which is located in District 5060 in the Pacific Northwest and B.C. Learn more about Rotary International at rotary.org.