Lead, follow or Get Out the Way!
Bright Shinning Objects

Rotary’s September theme is education. Or as Debbie pointed out it is a time to “Sharpen Your Saw1 ”. However, it is a bright beautiful day on St. Charles Bay as I sit down to put “profound thoughts2” forward for you to ponder, so I must relate that I do feel like I am suffering the after effects of a “celebration” of the completion of my 60th trip around the Sun. But I don’t remember the party, so it must have been a good one.


(Editor note from DG Debbie – how Joe spent his 60th Birthday week did not pass the 5 Way Test – it was not FUN! He needs a “do-over.”)

Onward to my assignment for this month; Why and where did our interest in education come from in Rotary? I happened to be reading the new book commissioned by Rotary, Doing Good in the World, The Inspiring Story of the Rotary Foundation’s First 100 Years, by David Forward, so I thought the answer might be within its pages. In the 7th chapter, 3-H, A Bright New Dawn for the Rotary Foundation, I think I found the answer. It was the sixth decade of The Rotary Foundation, in which the Foundation took a significant turn setting the stage for our Polio-Plus program. (Here I must digress to explain the title, Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way. Many times I think we, as Rotarians tend to be paralyzed by analysis. This would appear to be one of those. Did it really take 60 years for the Foundation to find a purpose, or is it because I started reading the book at page 90?)

RI President for 1978-79, Clem Rneouf, was preparing to become president, when he was introduced to Rotarian Dr. Robert Hingson who was demonstrating his “peace gun3”. Which is a remarkable efficient tool for mass immunization against communicable diseases. (Now I digress again. I hate needles! Well maybe hate is the wrong word; I have a phobia regarding needles and not just the ones pointed at me. I also know, from personal experience, that individuals like me are a pain for medics when they have 150 soldiers to move through the “shot-line” in 30 minutes.)

So I had visions of lines of individuals lined up to receive their inoculations with enforcers, holding a really neat weapon, keeping us cowards in the line. After all wasn’t the Colt 44 (Oops, that is a malted adult drink, I meant Colt 45) also known as the Peacemaker in the “Old West”? But as I read further I learned that the “Peace Gun” was actually a device that Dr. Hingson had invented because he had treated an accident victim who had hydrolytic oil injected under his skin in an industrial accident. His device enabled serum to enter the skin under high pressure; it could immunize a thousand people per hour.

RI President Jack Davis had invited Dr. Hingson to present to the RI Board his amazing invention. This triggered Davis to raise the question of a special campaign to commemorate Rotary’s 75th Anniversary. He challenged the Board to come up with an idea that would make a major impact during the anniversary Year (Now that is Leadership). That evening, President-elect Clem penned a proposal to launch a two-year 75th Anniversary Fund that could support international service projects too large for any single club or district. It also encouraged Rotarians to become personally involved (Again that is Leadership). The RI Board approved the program and Rotarian Jack promised to introduce it to the Rotary world at the upcoming convention in Tokyo (For those that are following the Leader).

In his keynote, Rotarian Jack emphasized his theme, Serve to Unite Mankind, declaring, “Rotarians can and should feel a sense of responsibility and urgency for the well-being and hope of people everywhere.” He then announced that the RI Board had agreed to commemorate the 1979 International Year of the Child by launching a worldwide effort to immunize children and adults of the world. Rotarian Jack deferred to Rotarian Clem to announce it (Maybe that is getting out of the way!).

Rotarian Clem may have thought, Great, Jack let me do this because he didn’t know what to call this grand idea. That morning the speakers at the Tokyo convention helped to answer that question. Rotarian Robert demonstrated the use of his “peace gun” and Rotarian Dr. James Hester focused on world hunger and human and social development. Together, they represented the three elements of what would become Rotary’s newest program: 3-H: Health, Hunger and Humanity.

It is the third element, Humanity, where Rotary’s efforts in education become evident. Priority 1 is literacy, Priority 2 is vocational training and Priority 3 is emergency assistance. Rotarian Cliff Dochterman served as the chair for the humanity section of 3-H, explaining that in many respects “humanity cuts across all segments of the program… In other words, Rotary cares about people and the dignity of each human being… Rotary cares about the quality of education… the poor, the oppressed... those with unfortunate disabilities/... the aged in our society… we are concerned about violence in our society. Juvenile delinquency and the rehabilitation of those who commit or perpetuate criminal activity.”

Now that I have figured why we are involved with Education, I can now devote the rest of my time to a discussion on how we can conduct Education in September. But wait, I am out of time and space. Let's plan on discussing it at the September 24th 3 ‘n 1 Seminar (Membership, Foundation, Public Image) at Texas A&M University – Kingsville.

Life is good!

Yours in Rotary,

Joe (First Dude)


1   Covey, Steven, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
2  OK, it is likely that I have never had a really independent thought on my own
3  Hingson's Peace Gun a.k.a. Bright and Shinning Object