Posted by Rosemarie Russo on Nov 06, 2018
Since our Club planted the Peace Pole in Rotary Park, I stop by to see it every chance I have.  Frank Thacker said it "gives off good energy".   I pray that our Pole will spread this "good energy" far and wide.  I know that sounds a bit naive - probably a lot.  Here I am on the far side of 70 and still hope for the kind of unity that made the Star Trek series such a wonderful series - where people everywhere, for the most part, accepted each other.  There were battles, of course, but good always triumphed over evil.  There was one show with two aliens - one was black on the left side and white on the right side and the other was white on the left and black on the right.  The whole story reflected on racism and its destructiveness.  The Star Trek crew represented all nations and worlds with a common goal - wherever they traveled, it was to promote peace and harmony.
 
Today is Election Day and I hope everyone fulfills their obligation as a citizen to vote.  We are so blessed to live in a country where we are free to vote as we choose, free to speak our mind, free to pray our chosen faith, free to get an education, free to work in our chosen field.  Along with that freedom comes a huge responsibility.  Lately, some people have abused that freedom.  They have chosen a path of evil - letting their hatred of others take over their minds to do unspeakable evil things.  If we, of peaceful mind, don't stand up to these bullies and stop their vile deeds and words, what will the future hold for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.  What kind of world will they inherit?
 
Rotarians the world over have given of themselves, their funds, their talents to make things better throughout the world one person at a time to promote respect for human rights, education for all children, health care projects, environment projects with the goal of peace and equality for all.  We bring medical supplies and doctors; we bring clean water equipment and train the recipients to maintain the system; we bring hope through education -building schools and providing books and materials; we bring the tools to resolve conflicts with assistance from our Peace Fellows.
 
It's the little things we do to help our neighbor, regardless of their color or faith, that will stop the evil.  Journalist Steven Petrow calls it "Kindness Contagion".  He said, "when we see other people around us acting in generous or kind or empathic ways, we will be more inclined to act that way ourselves."  Maybe if we hear and see more of this type of action, it will spread.
 
An article by Allison Klein recently told of the Muslim American Community in Pittsburgh that raised over $150,000 for the Tree of Life victims.  Tarik El-Messidi said, "this could have very well been at a Mosque or a Hindu Temple...we live in a time where so much bigoted rhetoric is being amplified."
On the fundraising page, he wrote, "we wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us."
 
In Southampton, England, October Books was an independent bookshop and cooperative for more than 40 years - a bookstore and a gathering place.  It struggled with increasing rents until left with the option of closing or move.  Small miracles...  right down the same street a former bank went on the market, a nonprofit organization agreed to share the building and a bank accepted their proposal to buy.  The bookstore raised more than $500,000 from the community.  Then how to move thousands of books...the idea to form a human chain passing the books along evolved with fliers handed out.  On moving day, over 200 people showed up, lining up shoulder to shoulder from old store to new and moved 2,000 books in an hour.  "That is community, friends," the bookstore's volunteers posted on Twitter afterward.
 
Holocaust survivor, Alexander Kimel, said, "We have to be tolerant.  I don't care if you're Catholic, Muslim or something else, as long as you're a decent human being.  That's really what it is."
 
Holocaust survivor, Magda Brown, said, "Have faith... don't train your children to hate... push back on the deniers... believe that tomorrow will be better and jealously guard your freedom.  Once you lose it, you lose everything."
 
Words matter.  Actions matter.  Let's use kind words or say nothing.  Let's do kind things or do nothing.  Hold the door open and let someone pass through before you.  Standing in line at the grocery store?  Let that person with two items go before you since you have so much more.  At a busy intersection with no stop sign or red light, queue up to let the first car there pass first.  Smile and say "Have a nice day" at that person walking by you to acknowledge that he or she exists.  Let's NOT call others nasty names; let's NOT make fun of others; let's NOT encourage hatred.
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