Rotary: Local community vs. World Community – Serve One; Serve the Other

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K.R. Ravindran, President 2015-16

There is a story told in my Hindu tradition of two sages, Shaunaka and Abhipratari. They were worshippers of Prana, the wind god. One day, the two men were about to sit down to lunch when a poor student knocked on their door, asking for food.

“No, boy, do not bother us at this hour,” was the reply. The student was surprised but very hungry, so he persisted.

“Tell me, honored sirs, which deity do you worship?”

“Prana, the wind god,” they answered impatiently.

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“Do you not know that the world begins and ends with wind, and that wind pervades the entire universe?”

The two sages were by now very irritated by their impertinent guest. “Of course we know it!” they replied.

“Well, then,” continued the student, “if Prana pervades the universe, then he pervades me also, since I am but part of the universe. He is also in this hungry body, which stands before you begging for a bite to eat! And so in denying food to me, you deny it to the very deity whom you say you serve.”

The sages realized the student spoke the truth and invited him to enter and share their meal. For they understood, at that moment, that by opening the door to one who sought their help, they were not only serving that individual – but reaching toward a larger goal.

Our experience of Rotary is, for the most part, based in our own communities. We meet every week in our clubs, in the same places, with the same familiar friends. While almost all of us are involved in some way or other in international service, the Rotary we see and share from day to day feels very local. It can be easy to lose sight of the larger picture – of what our service truly means.

Every impact you have as a Rotarian, individually and through your club, is multiplied by the power of our numbers. When you feed one person who is hungry, when you educate one person who is illiterate, when you protect one child from disease, the impact may seem small. It is anything but. For it is only through the power of numbers, through the power of our individual actions and gifts, that we can have the impact we seek: to truly Be a Gift to the World.

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About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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