Table Speech

Official Visit by District Governor Seiichi Komiya

July 20th,2005

RI2580 District Governor
Mr. Seiichi Komiya

This year’s RI President Carl Wilhelm Stenhammar told us that we had celebrated the Centennial of Rotary last year and this year we are marking the first page of Rotary for the coming century. His theme for the year is “Service Above Self”.

We all know this phrase as it is the first motto of Rotary International, but I believe it is a call from our President to go back to the basics.

Although a position in Rotary is for only a year, our President has called for the importance of continuity, and this year he is emphasizing the eradication of illiteracy and the need for a safe water supply. These two matters were given attention by his two predecessors as you know, and he is continuing their efforts.

We do not have problems with illiteracy in Japan, but we can give thought to teaching Japanese to foreigners from abroad. Regarding water, of the 6 billion persons on earth today, 1.2 billion do not have access to clean water, and many children die because of this.

Our President believes that Rotary alone cannot solve this problem, and we should work together with other organizations such as UNESCO.

He also asks us to target an increase of one member per year with an eye to increase female membership. At the International Assembly this year in Anaheim there were 60 females amongst the 530 Governors-Elect.

He has shown a special interest in youth, and has stated that an increase in 17 and 18 year old youth visiting other countries can become a force for world peace.

We also heard about the Foundation’s promotion of the Every Year, Every Rotarian campaign where each Rotarian donates a hundred dollars every year.

I have 3 points for this year: 1.To make our club meeting attractive. The club is the basis of Rotary so we should enhance fellowship. 2. Let us emphasize our efforts for youth. 3. Let us learn more about Rotary.

It is important that we understand our motto better, to learn about the relation of vocational Service and Vocational Ethics, the Four Way Test, the St. Louis Declaration, etc, which are the basics of Rotary.

If you can make it a custom for the Club President or a veteran member to make a 5 minute talk on these matters, you will make members more interested in Rotary and thus better members.

Now on our motto. Rotary was born in 1905, and the word service was not mentioned when the first objectives were made public in 1906. In 1908 a person named Arthur Frederick Sheldon joined the Chicago Club and created the motto “He Profits Most Who Serves the Best”, and then in response to this a layer names Collings created the motto “Service Above Self”.

Although Paul Harris stated that Sheldon meant “profit” in the spiritual sense, I believe his motto implied money profit.

There seems to be some difference in interpreting the world service between the Christian Westerners and the Japanese. A Buddhist priest said that “Service” implied the spirit of mercy, and that is one way of looking at it.

“Service Above Self” is the basic motto of Rotary and this year’s theme, I hope that you will all give it some thought and deepen your understanding about Rotary.

During this morning’s Club Assembly, there was talk about Resolution 23-34 which is known as the St. Louis Declaration. It states that Rotary is a philosophy of life that undertakes to reconcile the conflict between the desire to profit for one’s self and the duty and consequent impulse to serve others. This philosophy is the philosophy of service – “Service Above Self”. You can read the full text as it is given in the Rotary Manual of Procedure.

This Resolution was adopted in 1923 on September 1st that year, the Great Earthquake struck Tokyo. Rotary Clubs around the world sent this Club money for relief of the victims.

I believe it was the will to serve others that resulted in the relief funds which were so generously sent.

I have spoken today on “Service Above Self” which I also learned from Rotary. Thank you for your attention.