It’s an interesting word. It is used for both hello and goodbye in Hawaiian, but it means so much more. Aloha is an attitude. You can interpret it to mean peace, love, or respect. It is a very Rotarian word.
As Rotarians, we practice Aloha.
It is in our guiding principles, the objects of Rotary. There are only 4 objects, and the culminating principle is:
The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
Rotarians will recognize how we work towards peace in our service projects. Increasing literacy creates a more peaceful world. Training peace scholars reduces conflict. Access to clean water brings freedom from stress and disease. Every project that a Rotary club undertakes creates Aloha.
Rotarians also express Aloha in the way we interact with visitors and potential new members. Not surprisingly, the best way to make visitors feel welcome is to welcome them. If every new face gets greeted and welcomed and introduced, they are much more likely to come back. If every visitor is made to feel the warmth and fun of being in the group, the person who invited them is much more likely to bring another visitor (and the person who became a new member is more likely to invite another person to come to Rotary).
We can also bring peace and goodwill into our relationships with our fellow Rotarians.
Rotarians are a diverse group, and we are striving to increase, rather than decrease that diversity. Our statement on diversity, equity and inclusivity is straightforward:
We value diversity and celebrate the contributions of people of all backgrounds, across age, ethnicity, race, color, disability, learning style, religion, faith, socioeconomic status, culture, marital status, languages spoken, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity as well as differences in ideas, thoughts, values, and beliefs.
That seems readily apparent and incontrovertible. We are diverse in our occupations. We are diverse in our backgrounds. We are diverse in the way we look and the people we love. It is the last few words that are not so immediately obvious: “as well as differences in ideas, thoughts, values, and beliefs.”
As our society seems to be becoming more polarized, as more and more people retreat into echo chambers of social media where the only voices heard are those who share the same views, Rotary is one of the few places left where you can converse and discuss and socialize with people who may have a completely different political or philosophical outlook from your own.
We are extremely fortunate to have this opportunity. We can build peace from within our own Rotary clubs just by accepting the fellowship of people who might vote for a party other than the one you might support or have a belief that you adamantly oppose. You may not change each other’s views, but you may be able to understand each other. Having a friend from “the other side” helps reduce the demonization that is so prevalent in our civil discourse.
Rotary is a force for Aloha, across the globe, in our communities and in our selves.
Happy Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa Omisoka, Yalda, Dong Zhi or however you celebrate. Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and joyous holiday.