The Conductor's Wand
"Small occasions are often the beginning of great enterprises." - Demosthene (4th century BC) one of the greatest orators of ancient Greece.
But, are you sure of that? I’m not, but thus is the privilege of a philosopher to make such a comment to introduce a discussion.
I think that this sentence makes more sense: small moments happen every day but have no other purpose than to be an entertainment or a one-time opportunity.
In fact only a Great Man, a visionary man, the one who is enthusiastic, knows how to transform occasions or moments into opportunities.
And so begins what we can call a business.
Do you think that Paul Harris and his friends were thinking that Rotary was a one time opportunity? No. I think they knew they were starting a long term project.
Every one of us here has been given a great opportunity: the opportunity that came in the form of a Rotarian saying, “I’d like to invite you my Rotary Club meeting.”
It might have seemed like a small moment at the time. But for whatever reasons, for each of us, it also seemed like a good idea: an interesting chance to meet some good people, and do some good work, and have some fun along the way.
Looking back on that now, I think every one of us recognizes the opportunity to serve Humanity through Rotary for what it truly is: not a small opportunity, but a great one — the great opportunity that led all of us to the great enterprise that is Rotary.
And what I want all of us to take from that — today, tomorrow, and in the year ahead, and the century ahead— is that the only difference between a small opportunity and a great one is what you do with it.
Each one of us has been given the opportunity to serve in Rotary. What we do with that opportunity, that’s up to each of us. But the decisions we make — they won’t end with us.
We joined Rotary because someone asked us. What are the reasons for each new member? It’s probable that many of them did not know at that time and sat at the table each meeting discussing about the weather, or the economy, the Bruins, and the Red Sox. That’s not bad but it’s not the purpose of Rotary. But why are they inactive?
There is a story of a king, who received a gift of two magnificent falcons. How interesting are those birds. He called his falconer to him and said, “Take these birds, and train them well.”
Some months passed, and the king asked for a report on his new birds. The falconer said, “Your Highness, one of the birds is flying majestically, across all your lands. The other one — he found himself a nice branch the day he got here, and he hasn’t moved since.”
Of course the king was very disappointed in this. What is a falcon for but to fly? He called healers and experts from throughout the land — but the bird wouldn’t budge.
Finally the king thought, “All this time I have been looking for experts on birds. Perhaps I need to find an expert on branches.” So he called a farmer and said, “I will give you my best field if you can make that bird fly.”
The farmer said, “Yes, Your Highness,” and he went outside.
Ten minutes later, the king looked out the window. The bird was soaring off, over the treetops. The king ran outside and said, “The field is yours! How did you make this miracle?”
The farmer held up his hand and said, “It was very easy, Your Highness. I broke off the branch on which the bird was sitting.”
We cannot fly without leaving our perch.
And sometimes, if you want to do your best, to fly your farthest, you have to say, I am going to leave the things I know. I am going to devote myself totally to the task that lies ahead; I will fly forward as I am called, and I will not glance back.
Do you have branches in your Club and a few falcons sitting on them? Maybe. Your board knows.
Why not offer them a task? The club will be more vibrant. A more vibrant Club will be more attractive and getting more members mean it will be more and more attractive and so on. You know the rest of the advertising.
ORCHESTRA –PETS ANANLOGY
At PETS I used the analogy of an orchestra to talk about a Rotary club, and I compared your president to a conductor.
But to what good is waving a conductor's wand in the air without an orchestra? It looks a bit weird! ... And it does not produce music ... in fact it does not give a sound... it's dead silent!
This is why your president needs you if he wants to give a musical performance that brings happiness to those who receive his music.
A solo can certainly be fun, but nothing matches the provision of a large orchestra that offers multiple musical possibilities.
And as the proverb says ... alone maybe you go faster, but together we go much farther! ...
This is why your president needs each and every one of you. Your leader needs volunteers in the orchestra.
Let's look into the orchestra’s different ensembles;
First there are the strings (violins, cellos, double basses); in an orchestra those musicians are those who play almost throughout the song.
At the same time they are similar and different.
There are violins, versatile, that can make you cry as much as make you dance. And there's the opposite double bass that often keeps up the pace, and gives depth to the music.
The violins represent the very assiduous members of a club; always present in the meetings, it is the "sustaining base" of your club. And double basses are often those members that remind us about the rules, protocol, and give meaning to the actions taken.
Then there are the winds (clarinets, oboe, bassoon); they represent your club members that may be present less often, but have a special talent that is used to improve the quality of our actions.
Then there’s the brass (trombone, trumpet); brighter, more visible, it is often these members who are more daring, who have new ideas, and who often "pull the club" forward to go further.
Finally, there are the percussions, the wide variety of instruments ranging from the triangle and bells to cymbals and the bass drum. These instruments, as these members are unique, and are also visible. They are often found in public relations.
Finally, as in any orchestra there are those we cannot see, that is to say the stage personnel (machinists, sound engineers, lighting). Those are the members on which we can always count on to accomplish all these little routine tasks (bringing the bell, install the banner, etc.). They never complain and give the impression to be able to do everything.
And you, what type of instrument, what kind of member are you? What is your contribution in the orchestra?
Ask yourself and reflect upon what is YOUR role and involvement in YOUR club!
But with an orchestra comes concerts, and this is the goal for all of us: Happiness around us and make life better Serving Humanity.
The concert is the Rotarian Action.
The concert is also our fundraising activities.
As the orchestra must advertise its musical selections that are offered to the public at concerts, clubs must display their activities.
We must raise the public image of Rotary by a better dialogue with your community in any manner you can. This community must be able to hear your music and the harmony that exists in your orchestra.
And why not from time to time, do a concert abroad? It stimulates the orchestra members and increases notoriety of the group.
Thereby the visibility is often increased, and recruitment becomes easier by the attraction of those shows.
You have the choice as a club; be a quartet, a quintet or a large orchestra. But it is certain that the great orchestra offers many more musical possibilities. Whether for the sound of the triangle so delicate and little involvement in the musical, or a violin that is often the backstory of the service, you need all these players.
Do not hesitate to recruit new musicians, new members to your club, and that would have a varied experience.
It is said that music soften habits (customs) ... and it's true.
It is also said that the international Rotary Foundation also softens habits by working for peace. The Foundation will be a 100 year old organization this year. And that is a good old symphony orchestra. It is essential to support this so incredible organization who is going to make the false note of polio not to sound any more.
Be sure that the music that drives your club develops a great Rotarian harmony that can be put at work for Serving Humanity.
Rotary has done hundreds of thousands of local and international projects since the Foundation was created a hundred years ago. The first contribution was $26.50 but the projects are greater and greater since the Foundation is growing up just like Rotary itself. Eliminating Polio being the largest one with more than a billion invested. But another billion, more or less, is needed to complete the job.
So RI is asking all members to contribute an amount of $26.50 remembering the first donation.
Only $26.50. Think about that: in 2116 you will be a two hundred year Club and I will be in my third mandate as governor asking you for a small $26.50 each !!!!
So $26.50 is quite cheap for such a great project to be completed.
I invite you to be generous for Serving Humanity.
Thank you, it’s has been an honor to be with you this evening.