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"The Power of Shame"

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Frank J. Devlyn


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The Power of Shame

The original "inspiration" for this Forum topic came from the following quote by Paul Harris from an article in the February 1940 Issue of "The Rotarian" Magazine.

"But, we ask, must the best genius of men be devoted to the science of war and none to the science of averting it?"

Paul P. Harris – Guest Editorial in The Rotarian (Feb. 1940) “We Must Plan for Peace.”

Following is PRIP Devlyn's Message:

This Quote from Paul Harris made me reflect that many in the present, past and incoming leadership roles of Rotary International should look for innovative ways to Promote Better Understanding among peoples of the world via Rotary to avert war.

After the Copenhagen R.I. Convention I was invited by King Abdullah of Jordan (I am the honorary consul for the Kingdom of Jordan for the country of Mexico) to attend the II Peace Conference of Nobel Laureates in Petra Jordan.

Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel and King Abdullah were the coordinators who brought this event together for the second occasion.

Twenty Five Nobel Laureates proactively and openly discussed among themselves, Past, Present Heads of State, World Leaders and others of us among the approximately 100 invited quests besides representatives of the Media what they felt could be done to promote Peace.

Many things impressed me such as finding out that almost all Nobel Laureates present had a high regard for Rotary International and two of them were active Rotarians.  It was the comment from one Nobel Laureate who was from Colombia University who brought out what he called the “Power of Shame”.  Basically he mentioned that many things happened in the past of which we should be ashamed for not speaking up, ashamed for not doing something; ashamed for allowing something to occur which was not right, etc.  Of course he was referring to the Holocaust and other similar types of atrocities where most of society simply looked the other way.  He then brought out that whatever the atrocity or injustice being committed there was a benefit of telling society . . . Shame on you for not doing something! 

When I see problems in the world such as the genocide being committed in Darfur, Sudan and the suffering of persons dying from diseases such as Aids, Malaria, etc. the millions without safe water, the millions of young girls not given the right to education, the millions who could have their sight restored with simple cataract surgery, etc., etc,  I think of The Power of Shame.  When I see the added hardships put on persons trying to migrate from a country with poverty or conflict to one where they hope they might find a better way of life I think of The Power of Shame. When I learn of the millions of persons living on less than a dollar a day I think of The Power of Shame. that all of us might also consider The Power of Shame for not doing something.

The Power of Shame can be applied in so many instances in what is happening within our families, church, business country and world.

I am glad that in Rotary we have many opportunities via our weekly programs, district conferences, zone institutes, conventions, humanitarian grants, educational and peace scholarships where the genius of persons in Rotary might Create Awareness on some issue where The Power of Shame would help us Take Action to avert some atrocity or injustice close to home and far from home.

Shame of us in The Family of Rotary if we do not use those opportunities.  

Please Continue to Lead The Way in Creating Awareness & Taking Action in Helping Rotary to Change With the Times

Your amigo in Mexico City,
Frank J., Devlyn
RI President 2000-2001
TRF Chairman 2005-2006

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