I am proud to say I am an American because I have the good fortune to live in a country that listens and reports – it provides a journalistic communication mechanism which gives prominence to controversial personalities and their radical ideas. At the end of the day, when the disillusion with the status quo reaches a critical point, incredible change happens through the ballot box, and new ideas are put to the test for at least four years. At the individual level, the process can be so disruptive and painful that many want only that it will end. The first view offers hope; the latter only leads to despair.
by Richard Cunningham - Retired-Past Club President/Past Area Governor/ RLI Facilitator
I am also a Rotarian, and I care deeply about the institution, yet I look in vain for those same communication mechanisms which instill me with hope in the USA. Instead, I find a Rotary which does not pro-actively solicit members’ opinions – indeed the status quo forces suppress challenging thoughts and deny a voice to those with a more enlightened vision. Rotary simply does not have a democratic process.
At the very top, we are burdened with a meaningless vision statement which contains no hint of the six world outcome areas we seek to influence through our Strategic Plans. There is no cohesion, no consistency and no continuity.
There is no significant busy forum within Rotary for bringing together the silent majority in the debate. Those who seek district office are not allowed to campaign, and yet, there is a largely muted body of opinion that is aware of the need for change including many younger voices. The 2018 survey well illustrates the huge level of status quo dissatisfaction within.
So who is kidding who when it comes to change? We are coming off a year where RI has lost more members than ever. These are RI's figures:
  • 43% of members would not recommend their club!  
  • 35 % would not recommend Rotary.
  • One third think we expect too much time and money from members
I regret to say, when I viewed President-Elect, Mark Maloney’s speech at the January International Assembly, I was not inspired. I saw yet another rather portly older gentleman, who did not radiate energy or excitement. Was he wearing a Rotary pin? Where was his theme pin? What was his vision (vision mentioned once at the end)? Where was the RI plan and the continuity into which he has bought? Rotaract was mentioned twice in passing. He did not say "Volunteer" once. He did not mention technology or social media. He was focused on the international aspects of membership which for most Rotarians is a distant priority compared with local community needs. Nor did he mention Sister Clubs. He mentioned the need to grow membership but had nothing to say about how to enhance the membership experience (Club Service)." 
I heard low-level tactical messages and nothing about an Action Plan for RI. He expressed the view that DGs may not need to visit all their clubs. He talked about new membership models in an entirely non-specific way and failed to make a connection with his reference to “Family engagement.” He said Presidents do not need to do everything at their clubs which I agree is a major issue-the fall out for me is a revamped Adult Education Program which specifically addresses Human Resource Management including, among other things, Leadership, Teamwork, Delegation, Motivation, Conflict Resolution and Technology.
For me, his four messages for growth were obscure. He wants Membership chairs and committees formed to “review classifications” and “engage family members” but makes no reference to, or association with, the areas of focus. Under Leadership, he calls for “creating a viable path to leadership” whatever that means. Lastly, for “International” he wants us to “enhance our relationship with the United Nations”; a rather remote idea at the Club level.
My reaction was as muted as that of his audience.
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