Honorary and past member Doug Lobb was our guest speaker on July 15th and spoke of his experiences and beliefs in Rotary.

It isn't often that a person is invited back to speak to a club in which he was previously active.  It's even more rare when you are given a topic to speak about but then, it isn't often that the requester is Don Boyce.  I swear, that guy could sell aspirin to Bayer.

I've done a lot of thinking about rotary during these past two years and since this is the last chance I will have to speak to this club, I want to share some of my thoughts for your consideration.  As most of you know, Chris and I are moving to Boise Idaho to be near our youngest daughter and her family while we are still able to enjoy the energy and vitality of elementary aged kids.  Actually, the real reason is Ken, our son-in-law is a professor of Boise State and they have a darn good football team so I am looking for some tickets.

I resigned from this club in May of 2007.  That decision was not because of any dissatisfaction.  It was out of the hard reality that with the end of my work coming, I had to make some tough decisions about how to live on a modest retirement.  You gave me the high honor of being an honorary member and I cherish that.  More, you have invited me back on many occasions for any Wednesday meeting, call it pride or stubbornness, but I could not feel comfortable to be only on the taking end of a clubs kindness and generosity.

The reality of the last two years is that I miss Rotary.  It had been an integral part of my life for a quarter of a century but I was unwilling to remain active when I could not contribute my fair share.  One of the reasons for moving beside the primary one of being nearer to family is to take advantage of the real estate market and have more resources upon which to live.  I will be looking into re-affiliating with one of the four clubs in Boise.

So what is it that I missed about Rotary and what would I like to emphasize, if I could? That is what I have been thinking about.

1.         I missed the fun and the fellowship.  It seems to me that in a depersonalized age, meaningful fun and fellowship is becoming more and more a necessity.  Having fun, for a purpose is a missing element in our society.  When all is said and done, fun and fellowship is one of the great binding qualities and I think, it is a necessary ingredient for club growth.

2.        I miss this avenue for service.  It was Winston Churchill who said, "We make a living by what we get; and we make a life by what we give."

Rotary is a great avenue for this to happen.  It is among the great service organizations in our world binding together people of over 200 different countries, varying cultures, different religious persuasions and a myriad of social practices.  Few other organizations in the world can make that claim.

As a clergyman, I have become very disillusioned by the squabbling and restrictiveness of world religions.  It isn't that the religions are lacking in meaning or message or the founders incorrect it is because religious persuasions have, in my opinion, been high jacked by ultra conservative personalities who insist that if one doesn't believe the exact way THEY do, then they are wrong.  That is about as negative a religious thought as one can have.  None of the great religious leaders, Buddha, Nanek Den, Mohammed, Confucius, Moses or Jesus would even recognize what humans have done to their idealism.

I am at a total loss as to why persuasions cannot work together.  Something is tally out of whack when people can endorse killing and warfare, in the name of truth.  Something is nuts when we equate devotion to what we wear or how we shave or if we are male or female.  The great black preacher Gardner Taylor said, "There is a gone wrongness in our world".

In light of that, I think Rotary has the opportunity to fill a great role.  Better than most organizations.  Rotary has transcended differences and instead of insisting on this way or that, it has quietly proclaimed "Service above self" and delivered the four way test as a means of developing human interaction.  Such an inclusive approach resonates in today's world.

This is a huge opportunity.  You don't have to be a genius to know the world needs help.  There is an enormous gulf between the world wealthy and the world's poor and to put it bluntly, many of the world's wealthy don't give a damn.  There all too few of the like of Bill Gates.

But Rotary clubs also must be aware of some pitfalls.  When membership recruitment becomes more important than helping those in need; something is wrong.  Regardless of size when a community need is seen and members seek to improve it, a club is on the right track and, I believe a club will grow with that emphasis.

Some clubs have made financial contributions a major emphasis.  Work toward community support or worldwide improvement is a great goal but if it degenerates into bragging rights or a sense of elitism, it is wrong.  I for one don't give a damn how many Paul Harris fellowships a club has, or how great its outreach budget is if that is their major emphasis.  It is in practicing the goals of the organization, that a club will get its support and nobody will feel left out or insignificant as people give as they are able.

When we see needs in our community or are excited by international projects of the organization and contribute to it, we know that's what it is all about.  Response of that nature is practical, attainable, enriching, uplifting and in the broadest sense, spiritual.

I was a member of the Rotary club in Pomona California in 1985.  The president of the club was John McGuire a dentist and father of the baseball slugger Mark McGuire.  John was shackled because of Polio.  Both legs had large metal braces so he could walk.

Another member of that club was Jim Kostoff an attorney, who also walked with the aid of leg braces because of Polio.  The Pomona club embraced the Polio eradication challenge enthusiastically and I can still remember the day of horseracing we sponsored at the Los Angeles County fair to raise a huge amount of money for that project.  I can't tell you how proud I was and still am that Rotary International took on the eradication of polio in the entire world; people thought that was a crazy goal.

Last year, just 24 years later, the number of report new polio case in the world was under 500.  It was down to 600 reported, but groups in India and Africa refused use of the oral vaccine, That is a massive achievement and as you read in the last Rotary magazine, the Gate's foundation feels this goal is so attainable that they have given the Rotary Foundation 355 million dollars and Rotary International has pledged an additional 200 million. This is a great accomplishment, something about which Rotarians should be proud.

When Chris and I were in India, we were there because of a huge squabble between some congregations.  It wasn't with the Hindus or the Muslims or the Sikhs, it was with other Christian persuasions who were persecuting fellow Christians over who had the right to certain properties.  I was there for a religious purpose but I was as mad as hell.  Then there, right in the city limits of Nagercoil we saw well spewing forth clean water.  On that well was a Rotary wheel and, in Tamil the clubs involved.  That's Rotary in action.

Beyond our local community who cannot swell with pride when we read of projects that enable impoverished people to a better way.  Who isn't weak in the knees, even weepy when they see the crumpled body of a crippled person bust into a smile when they sit in a wheel chair sent there by a Rotary Club?

I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  We're not a networking group to simply share economic gain between each other.  We're not an elitist group, I hope, who screens out those who don't quite fir an image.  We are a service group.  Our goal is to GIVE and to have fun doing the tasks we undertake.

When we truly practice the art of giving; giving our time, our talents and our means so that some of the world's  unfortunate can live better or some young people can share in another culture and see they feel very much like we do or some students can fellowship together while they learn something new that challenges their horizons.  THEN we get to take.

We take satisfaction in knowing that we joined with 1,219,102 Rotarians in 174,271 clubs around the world to make a difference.  We take the joy of knowing that in some little way, we made the world a better place.

Size isn't the issue; President Eisenhower once said, "It isn't the dog in the bit that counts, it's the bite in the dog."  This club had a will continue to make a difference.  That's all we are called upon to do; to make a difference; to give of ourselves until it feels good.

So friends, continue to have fun, continue to GIVE what you can of your time, your talents and your means then you will TAKE the true meaning of life.