When 1.2 million Rotarians of all ages, professions, ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds meet in more than 200 countries and geographical areas of the world their final sentence at each meeting inevitably is:
'Rotary and Peace the World Over'
Peace is a question of will. All conflicts can be settled, and there are no excuses for allowing them to become eternal.
Martii Athissari, Finnish, b. 1937
Nobel Peace Prize 2008
This is what Rotary and Rotarians as a global organisation, individual clubs and individuals commit to - with passion, dedication and as a spiritual and practical manifesto in its own right:
Peace for humanity and the natural world at large,
peace of mind, soul and body for ourselves and for our fellow creatures.
Rotarians travel the globe. They constitute a mobile society of like-minded individuals, who volunteer with time, energy, contacts and finance to try to ease the pain and suffering of their fellow men caused by human conflict, illness, natural disasters, social and economic hardships - be it in their own countries or internationally.
But as Rotarian globetrotters in good causes we are also aware that people in many countries on earth neither understand, read or speak English – the international lingua franca of communication - and that none of us may speak, read or write their indigenous languages.
Rotary has eight ‘official’ languages – English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.
Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences.
Mikhail Gorbachev, Russian,b.1931
Nobel Peace Prize 1990
So when we proclaim our credo ‘Rotary and Peace the World Over’ do we take into account the billions of people, whom Rotarians are trying to reach out to, who may actually not understand English or any other of the official Rotary languages?
And that - although they speak other major languages such as Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, French, Arabic, Bengali - to name a few - they still strive towards the same common goal of peace for mankind?
Especially those who are caught in the horrific experience of war and conflict and the daily fear for their lives. Or those fleeing from war and disasters leaving behind their homeland, families, friends and belongings in search of a little peace and a safe place in this world.
It is with all those in mind that the PEACE UMBRELLA PROJECT was originally conceived - as a beautiful, visible, yet useful ‘statement’ of our efforts as Rotarians to promote peace around the world as much as we can, whoever we are, whatever we do and wherever we come from.
In the hearts of people today there is a deep longing for peace; only when the spirit of peace awakens and takes possession of men’s hearts, can humanity be saved from perishing.
Albert Schweitzer, French,1875-1965
Nobel Peace Prize 1952