By Sakuji Tanaka, in English and Japanese
RI President Sakuji Tanaka
In Japan, we place great importance on the value of work. Whatever we are called to do, we should do it to the very best of our abilities, with dignity and with pride. Whether the job is running a country or shining shoes, there is honor in every vocation.
I grew up embracing this belief, but I had never stopped to contemplate it. One day, in my third year in Rotary, we had a speaker at our club who talked about the purpose of one’s livelihood. He asked, why do we work hard? What is the importance of our work?
I had never thought about this before. I never saw it as a question. We work to earn money. We work to be successful. We work because it is required of us. To me, this was all.
On that day, I learned about the idea of vocational service. It was the idea that through our work, we can serve others. We think about others’ needs, and grow to care more for the needs of our communities. We build positive connections between people, and a more peaceful world.
This is the idea that has changed my life. It did not change how much I worked, or how hard I worked. But it changed why I worked, and how I experienced my life. It has made me see a higher purpose in everything I do.
The idea of Service above Self is an idea that is unique to Rotary. But it is an idea that can be embraced by anyone. And I believe very much that in Rotary, and beyond Rotary, we can build Peace through Service.
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