2014 IA opening plenary speech - RIPE Gary’s theme speech
Let's try that again everybody.
Great. Your Chinese is good! You can go to Taiwan or China now. Please give yourself a big round of applause.
Fellow Rotarians - Welcome to the 2014 Rotary International Assembly!
I am sure you are all very happy to get started with our wonderful year!
I woke up quite early this morning and watched the news on TV. As usual news can remind you that there are so many people in this world who need help. But this morning, I'm facing 537 powerful people, from all over the world. And together, we are going to take a good look at some of those problems. And we’re going to start working on how to fix them.
And that is why we are here, bright and early on a Monday morning in San Diego.
We're here to get started, turning some of that bad news, into good news.
And you know, I think that is a good way, of looking at our job, this Rotary year.
Our job is to make the news in the world a little better - a little happier - a little more hopeful. It's our job, to make the good news. And it's also our job, to get the good news, on the news!
This is a very exciting year in Rotary. And next year, our year, is going to be even more exciting. It’s going to be Rotary’s one hundred and tenth years. All of us are proud of Rotary. We want a Rotary that creates a huge, positive impact to this world. Well, we all know, great things don't happen by themselves. They happen when we work hard, when we have strong clubs, and when we have Rotarians who love Rotary.
We've been talking a long time about membership. I think you all know that we have a goal, of 1.3 million members, by the end of our year. We're going to talk a lot about that, this week. We'll talk about bringing younger people into Rotary, more women into Rotary. If you look around this room, we see many good looking people. That's great! But how many of you are actually Rotarians, and how many are spouses?
Well, I have a suggestion—everyone in this room should be a Rotarian! Every Rotarian should invite their spouse into Rotary. Make Rotary for the Whole family. Let me tell you what we found out in Taiwan, when we started doing this—we found out that our wives have more friends than we do! We invited our wives, and then they invited their friends. Now their friends see, Rotary isn't just for men. They said OK, we'll join too! And when you have men and women in a club, energy goes up, you do more. Membership didn’t just double, it more than doubled! And our service level also, went way up. This is something I think all of you need to try.
I wrote a book, in Chinese, called "FindSolutions, Not Excuses.” This is something I think we all need to be doing. We need to make things right—not say why we cannot! We need to assume leadership for building strong clubs—and that starts with bringing in new members. And we need to take initiatives for our Rotary Foundation—which starts, with making our own donation.
Our Foundation belongs to us. Everybody in Rotary benefits from the Foundation. And everybody in Rotary needs to support the Foundation. I don't think anyone here today will delegate all the hard work to other Rotarians and do nothing themselves. All of you are leaders who know how to lead, who know how to take initiative. No one in here will say you should all give your money to The Rotary Foundation -
I’m leaving my money in the bank. Am I correct?
If you want to be a Rotary leader, you have to lead by example.
That's Why President Ron asked all of this year's district governors, to be the First Class, to have 100% District Governor-elects donate to The Rotary Foundation. They did it. They became the First Class, and they are always going to be the First Class. Well, President Ron is very proud of this, which he should be! And after his Assembly, he gave me a challenge. He said, Gary, I want you to beat me. I want your class, to raise more money for the Foundation, than my class.
Maybe you know, I am Taiwanese and Taiwanese people are very competitive! So I said, OK! We’re going to take the challenge! But this gave me a problem. His class is the first class. Now what? I'm not going to ask you to be the Second Class. Who wants to be Second Class?
N0! Instead, I am asking you, to be the Best Class. I am asking you, to beat last year's record, of $750,000.
I want all of you, to show the Rotary world, that this class of District Governors is truly the Best Class yet!
I think all of you know the Chinese philosopher, Confucius. Sometimes I call him the world's first Rotarian, because even though he died twenty-five hundred years before Rotary was founded, his ideas are very much Rotary ideas.
And one of the things he said was, "It is better to light a single candle, than to sit and curse the darkness.” I think that one line sums up everything that we think in Rotary.
There are so many problems in the world, so many people who need help. And many people say - there’s nothing I can do. They sit there. Do nothing. Everything stays dark. But this is not the Rotary way. The Rotary way, is the Confucius way. The Rotary way, is to light a candle. I light one. You light one. 1.2 million people - all light one. Together—we light up the world. And this is what I want you to do. I want you all, to Light Up Rotary.
This is our theme. And this is my challenge to you.
How you light up Rotary—how you light your own candle—is up to you. You know where you are strong. You know what your community needs, and you know, how you can help.
There are so many ways to Light Up Rotary. I hope many of you will choose to host a Rotary Day, to show your community, what Rotary is, and what we do. I hope that you will involve your Rotaract and Interact clubs in your service, to bring the new generation of Rotary, closer to Rotary membership.
And perhaps the most important thing we can do, to Light Up Rotary, is to finish the job that we’ve been working on, for more than a quarter of a century. That, of course, is the eradication of polio.
Right now, we are on track, to achieve full eradication of polio, by 2018. And if we stay on course toward that goal, we will see interruption of the wild poliovirus, in our year—2014-2015.
That would be an incredible thing, for all of us. But it will only happen, if we keep up the fight, and keep up the momentum. And that means, helping to fill the funding gap, for the polio endgame plan.
When we eradicate polio—and we will—we'll have proved ourselves, as an organization capable of great things. We'll be even better equipped, for the next challenge we choose to take on. And we’ll have given the world a gift that will endure forever.
It is our responsibility, to bring about that moment—to stop the spread of polio, in our year. I want to see a Rotary that is brighter, with a light that shines out clear and strong. I want our light to be warm and inviting so that other people want to come closer, to be a part. I want this light to inspire — to show everyone what one person can do, what we can all do when we work together.
Light Up Rotary is our theme - but it is more than our theme. It is how we live in Rotary, how we think in Rotary, how we feel, how we work.
It is how we make a difference
— every day, in every club, every district, and every country where we serve.
We are the ones, to Light Up Rotary—and to let its light shine.
We are the ones to say, yes, there are people who care, and who are capable, and who are making a difference.
We are the ones who say, no one should sit alone in the darkness. Instead, we can come together, all 1.2 million of us, to Light Up Rotary. This is our job. This is our challenge.
And this new Rotary year, will be our year—to let our Rotary light shine, stronger, and brighter, than ever before.