A Letter from Kalyan Banerjee,
President of Rotary International
In 2011-12, I ask Rotarians to Reach Within to Embrace Humanity.
I ask you to look within yourselves, to
understand that all of humanity has the same dreams, similar hopes,
the same aspirations and similar problems. Whoever we are and wherever
we live, each of us yearns for the same peace and contentment and for
the same fulfillment in our daily lives. What we work to bring to
others, we must first find within ourselves because what we wish for
ourselves is what others wish for themselves as well.
Before talking globally about peace, we need first to start with
ourselves and then work outward. First, we find our own peace, and
then work to establish peace in our homes and our families and our
communities. We cannot work to build peace in the world without first
building it in our own homes; if we are to create peace, friendship,
and tolerance on a global scale, we must first practice it in our own
neighborhoods. When we have peace in ourselves, we have peace in our
home; when there is peace in our home, we have peace that we can
share with others. As we find joy and satisfaction in being with the
people we love and care about, we are able to care for others as well.
I believe that if you strengthen yourself, you strengthen those who
share your life and your home. Once you have a strong family, you have
a strong base on which to build. Those who have that inner strength
can work together better to serve humanity, and that is what we do in
In the year ahead, we will have three emphases in our Rotary service:
to strengthen our family, to continue what we do best, and to change
whatever needs to be changed.
Our first emphasis in this Rotary year will be the family. The family
is where everything begins: All our service, everything we wish to
achieve in our world, begins here. The mother and the child are at the
core of every family; when we begin there, we can carry our work
forward through individual lives and throughout the community.
Our second emphasis will be on continuity, on
finding the things that we do well and taking them to the next level.
Each of us has found success in Rotary service, and we should build on
those successes, expand on them, so that we can help even more people
in the future. We must continue our work for cleaner and safer
water, mitigating disease and illness, spreading literacy, working
with and for the new generation, and striving for peace.
At the same time, we also know that there are things we could be doing
better and things which we should be changing. We must have the
courage to see these, to identify them, and to work to make the
changes we need to make.
Mohandas Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the
world.” In Rotary, we endeavor to live ethically and honestly, to
share friendship and goodwill, to see the true worth of every human
being. We are not interested in the lowest common denominator, for
Rotary is anything but common and Rotarians are uncommon people. That
is why we work to elevate ourselves and, thereby, to elevate the
All of us in Rotary are looking to change the
world, for why else would we be Rotarians? We believe that our
world can be happier, healthier, and more peaceful. We believe that
the future can and will be better than the past. We are
idealists, and we bring our ideals to life through our Rotary service.
And so, our third emphasis in 2011-12 will be change, and we start by
being the change we wish to see in the world. If we wish for peace, we
start by living in peace ourselves, in our homes and in our
communities. If we wish for an end to polio or to any other disease in
the world, if we wish environmental degradation to stop, if we wish to
reduce child mortality, to spread literacy or to prevent hunger, we
must be the instrument of that change and recognize that it must start
within each of us.
Let us Reach Within to Embrace Humanity. And in
peace, harmony, and friendship, let us bring change and a more joyful
future for us all.
President, Rotary International, 2011-12