As I was contemplating on my message for this month, I was reminded of one of my favorite prayers - the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.”   We are living in a world filled with conflict – in homes, workplaces and communities.  And although these situations distress us, our responses to them are often wanting.  Many times we find it easier to keep our distance; and other times, we inadvertently fan the flames, through our judgements.  This month therefore gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on how we view and build peace.
And this brings me back to the Peace Prayer. Rotary demands of us to be “instruments of peace” and provides us with the tools that we require to promote peace. Just like the Peace Prayer, the fourth Object of Rotary emphasizes understanding as a precursor to peace building.  Understanding different cultures, value systems, aspirations and grievances in our communities, and co-creating solutions for them is Rotary’s approach to preventing and mitigating conflict.  And what a great coincidence that we will later this month, welcome the pioneer Peace Fellows at the Makerere University Rotary Peace Centre, who are being trained to become catalysts of peace.  One of the hallmarks of the peace programme is the social change initiative that Peace Fellows will undertake, after completion of their studies, to promote sustainable peace within their communities.
But peace is not just an academic idea for the Rotary Peace Fellows. The “advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service” is a collective responsibility.  Our service projects that are tackling poverty, discrimination, access to education, health, water and sanitation and promoting the environment are building the optimal conditions for peaceful societies.  It is our role therefore to bring a peacebuilding lens to the work that we do, by making our service projects more inclusive and equitable and ensuring that they reach those who most need them.
Now that you know how to promote peace, I ask, are you as a Rotarian up to the challenge? Are you ready and willing to be an Instrument of Peace? Being part of the solution is how we as Rotarians build together. Being open minded and tolerant is how we as Rotarians approach the problems of the world.  As Thich Nhat Hanh says “working for peace in the future is to work for peace in the present moment.”  So let’s make peace part of what we do every day.
Rosetti Nayenga
District Governor 2020 - 21
Rotary International District 9211