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Speaking at the club on 1 May, Adrienne Murray had this to say:
'I asked for the opportunity to speak today because I have been thinking (about what Tony Heyward had to say the other week about changes that are needed in Rotary for our organisation to survive) as well as listening (and reading) about the changes to our society in both the way people should behave and the different expectations on us than even ten years ago.

'As individuals in our community and as a Rotary Club, we are constantly being asked to reflect our community, know the difference between right and wrong, and to honour and welcome diversity.

'I think for most of us, and certainly if we are a genuine Rotarian, we do know what is right and what is wrong.

'Refer back to the “founding fathers” of Rotary with the 4-way test:

  •  Is it the truth?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

'At their first meeting, the five men were probably all white and definitely of the upper class. A representation of their times. Strict rules, barriers between men and women and most definitely barriers between race and anyone who did not fit the rules.

'In our times, the 21st century, we live with a colourful, multi-dimensional, technological, and diverse population but the vision of service and fellowship remain.

'Where am I going? Well, if nothing had changed from Paul Harris’s initial governing ideals, Rotary would not exist.

'The world is different, expectations about people’s lives have changed, understanding of people’s identity has changed, people’s ability to move and live in different environments has changed, and medical ability to improve individual's understanding of themselves has changed.

'I certainly agree with Tony, and with what I read. We need to continue to evolve as an organisation and as individuals, for our Rotary club to continue to exist or we truly will become dinosaurs.

'In my opinion, this boils down (almost) to what our parents (well, most of our parents) taught us - Respect yourself and others.

'As an organisation and individuals within it, we should not be providing service and financial assistance where it is needed for our own personal gratification. We provide service to improve the economic and personal well-being of others around us. ''How can you do that if you do not have respect for all people? (I was about to say 'mankind' – but for many even that is a word from a past era).

Do we need to update what we mean by respect? This comment is straight from an article I read this afternoon about leadership.

Redefining “respect”
For the sake of better performance, creativity and equality, it’s time for leaders to confront the nasty effects of niceness culture. We can start by defining “respect” as something different from uninterrupted harmony.
We need a shared understanding that respect is shown when we invite and listen to someone’s unvarnished perspective, even when that perspective contradicts or weakens the positions of others.
Even when those perspectives make the group less happy and comfortable.

'Let’s keep up with it.

'Let’s be a club where anyone who is interested in the ideals of the Rotary organisation wants to join and when they are here, they are made welcome by everyone. A club where there are no remarks or quiet comments, no talk of the girls' table and the boys down the back, no silent treatment of anyone because we are not comfortable with their race, religion, colour or personal identity. I use the term 'personal identity' because I find the term “sexual orientation” to be unfair and degrading. After all, we all have a sexual orientation and preference. I think the terms "boys' table" and "girls table" should come out of our language. It is subtly degrading. I know that I have used it and at the time thought it was funny. I apologise. For some people, it is not funny. We should pick up on those cues and delete it from our language.

'Colour and race, definitely linked. Many people use the colour shade of a person to consciously or unconsciously label them - they belong here, they don’t belong here. They are one of us or they are not one of us. How wrong can we be? Our conscious biases need to be confronted and our unconscious bias exposed and dealt with. Our nation was formed in partnership but to this day there is still racial bias. It may seem to be subtle, but if it hurts others then it is not ok. We need to listen to the stories of those around us to hear some of their hurt. We should not be a bystander and/or an on-looker doing nothing or waiting for someone else to make a stand.

'To be a Rotarian we need to be fair to all, and not exhibit behaviours that reflect adversely on Rotary or any Rotarians. That is part of our code of conduct.

'As our mothers taught us: support, service, and loyalty begin at home. Rotary is one definition of our home.

'We live in a world that is significantly different to the one that Paul Harris lived in and envisaged as an organisation that would “recapture the friendly spirit amongst businessmen that had existed in smaller communities” and an organisation that would become an important service movement.

'Becoming an important service movement has certainly been achieved but I believe Rotary is struggling, particularly in the western world, because we often have difficulty capturing that friendly spirit within our own clubs. To grow, we need to be welcoming and friendly to all those who see our club as worthwhile. And to be worthwhile we need to reflect our modern world'.

My point of view

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