A Message from RI President Bhichai Rattakul
Renewing our commitment to peace in the aftermath of 11 September
Dear fellow Rotarians,
One year ago, the world changed forever with the attacks of 11
September. Their impact sent shock waves of horror and disbelief
throughout the international community. Rotarians worldwide
immediately responded with funds for the victims, letters of
sympathy, and other expressions of support and goodwill (see
article). Clubs and districts also redoubled their efforts to support
programs that foster international understanding and peace.
Today, more than 30 armed conflicts ravage the world. In these
precarious times, Rotarians feel an even greater sense of urgency and
purpose. The wounds from 11 September may never fully heal, but the
tragedy has strengthened our resolve to fight terrorism and hate.
Rotary founder Paul Harris once remarked, "Love is mightier than
hate. Give it one-half the advertising that hate has had, and there
will be no more war."
I have served as a politician and cabinet member for many years in my
home country of Thailand. But I still believe that an organization
like Rotary, which has no hidden agenda, can accomplish more than a
government in building world peace and goodwill.
Each of us can Sow the Seeds of Love through Rotary's many peace
programs and international service projects. To commemorate New
Generations Month in September, we must support programs that will
provide a better future for our youth (a special section on Rotary
youth programs appears on pages 15-24).
The next generation holds the key to resolving the conflicts of
today. Rotary World Peace Scholars, Ambassadorial Scholars, Rotary
Volunteers, Youth Exchange students, and Group Study Exchange teams
all contribute to world understanding. It is this person-to-person
contact that seems to make the greatest impact at the grassroots
level. When we reach across borders and oceans to collaborate on
international service projects, we turn strangers into friends. And a
world filled with friends is a world filled with love and
The Rotary Foundation's Ambassadorial Scholarships program, launched
in 1947, is the world's largest privately funded international
scholarships program. These scholars go on to become instruments of
peace and outstanding leaders in their own right. Sadako Ogata, who
studied in Washington, D.C., in 1951, was one of the first
Ambassadorial Scholars from Japan. She went on to serve in the United
Nations and as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Another Ambassadorial Scholar, American journalist Bill Moyers, was
one of the original architects of the U.S. Peace Corps program. He
later became a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor and an Emmy
award-winning television news reporter.
One of our newest initiatives is the creation of a Rotary-sponsored
academic program to promote global understanding. The first 70 Rotary
World Peace Scholars are beginning two-year graduate programs at
seven Rotary Centers for International Studies. They represent 32
countries and will study international relations, mediation, and
conflict resolution. It is our hope that these scholars will be the
next generation of diplomats and world leaders who will be
instrumental in forging world peace.
Paul Harris viewed Rotary as a way to unite cultures and countries
under the umbrella of service. He observed in 1945, "The way to war
is a well-paved highway and the way to peace is still a wilderness."
Rotarians have the vision and the tools to chart that wilderness. The
anniversary of 11 September should be not only a day of remembrance,
but also a day of promise. Together, we will Sow the Seeds of Love to
realize our dream for a more peaceful world.
President, Rotary International