Rotary International President R. Gordon R. McInally calls for members to capture the world's attention and lead the way toward possibilities far beyond our current expectations.

McInally, a member of the Rotary Club of South Queensferry, West Lothian, Scotland, revealed the 2023-24 presidential theme, Create Hope in the World, during the Rotary International Assembly in Orlando, Florida, on 9 January 2023.

He urged members to promote peace in troubled nations, help those affected by conflict, and maintain the momentum of initiatives begun by past leaders.

 

"The goal is to restore hope — to help the world heal from destructive conflicts and, in turn, to help us achieve lasting change for ourselves," McInally said.

In 2006, I visited the village of Ban Taling Chan in Thailand, where Rotary members had provided new houses, a meeting hall, and a childcare and a health care facility following the tsunami of late 2004.
There, I was approached by a woman who looked as worn as you’d expect of someone who’d faced what she had. The woman offered me a beautiful seashell. She explained that the shell had been in her possession for more than 30 years. It was one of her very few remaining possessions, and initially I was reluctant to accept it, but she insisted on giving it to me as a token of her gratitude for what Rotary had done for her.

Later on the tour, I saw the woman again and learned that she had lost her husband, daughter, and son in the tsunami. She told me that that disaster had taken everything. She lost her family, her home, her livelihood. And worst of all, she lost hope and all reason to continue living.

But she went on to tell me that Rotary, thanks to all we had done to rebuild her community, had restored her optimism. She told me we had given her hope. This is a beautiful shell.

 

As I was planning the theme for our year and what it would mean, I was drawn not only to the shell but also to the colors of the world around us, which are used to great effect by one of Scotland’s greatest living artists, John Lowrie Morrison OBE, also known as Jolomo, whose paintings I have admired and collected for years. As we were selecting the colors for our ties and scarves, as you can see on the screen behind me, I wanted them to reflect the world’s colors and more importantly what Rotary should focus upon in our year ahead.

The memory of the lady from Thailand and these colors made me realize what we should be seeking to do at this time, made me realize what our call to action is, made me realize what our theme should be, and so, I am delighted to tell you that our theme for 2023-24 will be Create Hope in the World.

 

 

Create hope in the world.
This is how Rotary brings lasting change to the world: one newly created hope at a time. And the theme also begins to explain how we help create a similar kind of change within ourselves. Because for many people on this planet, lost hope is not just a function of material poverty. All of us face challenges that threaten our well-being. Just as it takes tremendous courage to wage peace, so too it is brave to reach out and admit that you need help.

I feel strongly about the topic of mental health, and I will explain some of the steps we will be taking over the next year and hopefully beyond to help improve the mental health system, not only for all Rotary members but for our communities as well.
I want Rotary to become known as an organization that takes care of its members as well as the people we serve. Any mental health professional will tell you that, by helping others, we essentially help ourselves.
The evidence overwhelmingly shows that helping others benefits our mental health and well-being by reducing stress and improving our mood. The friendships developed along the way foster an incredible sense of community and camaraderie, themselves essential ingredients to mental health and wellness.

So, these are our plans for the year ahead: that we help bring peace to the world and soothe those afflicted by conflict, and that we help each other and our communities deal with our own internal struggles, and that we end the stigma associated with asking for help. In all these actions, the goal is to create hope — to help the world heal from destructive conflicts, and, in turn, to help us achieve lasting change for ourselves.

Rotary helps create the conditions for peace, opportunity, and a future worth living. By continuing what we do best, by remaining open and willing to change, and by keeping our focus on building peace in the world and within ourselves, Rotary helps create a more peaceful world, a more hopeful world. As Rotary’s leaders from all the regions, I urge you to Create Hope in the World.

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