General

It Rained as we Planted Trees

My Dear Rotarians and friends, in particular my Action Presidents,

Today is Tree Planting Day in many Chinese communities worldwide. Today marks the 75th anniversary of the death of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. It is also the anniversary of the founding of the Girl Guides movement in the United States. Most important, it is also Tree Planting Day for District 3450. I wonder why it always rains when Rotarians in Hong Kong gather together to plant trees.

It actually started to rain yesterday, shortly after we finished the Presidents-elect Training Seminar. A few of us went for a drink after PETS. Some went because they were in between appointments, while some went to keep others company. I went because I thought I deserved a stiff Black Label on the rocks. It was pouring when we left the hotel; and already questions were asked as to whether today’s planned activities could or should go ahead.

I signed up for the pre-tree-planting keen walk, and set the alarm clock early enough so that I could be outside that famous, or infamous hotel in Kowloon Tong by 7:30a.m. Anwer Islam had detailed us to be there to board a coach for Pak Tam Chung. I will spare you the details, but the upshot was that I did not leave home until 7:25a.m. I caught a taxi, and lo and behold, the driver did not know where the hotel was. Nevertheless, I made the coach, in fact the first of the two coaches. I sat beside Simon Wong of Peninsula Sunrise and we discussed service projects in China and what could be done to create awareness among members in the district on some of the very interesting and meaningful projects in China.

By now, “Create Awareness and Take Action” should be rather familiar words. I began talking about them even before I left for Anaheim. And let me once more declare that I had no insider information then. The rest is of course history.

Come to think of it, today is exactly one month after the conclusion of the 2000 International Assembly. A lot has happened in this month. There was the RI Presidential Conference between 25 and 27 February, the first ever held in Hong Kong or the District; there was an Intercity Meeting held in Macau on 28 February in honour of President Carlo Ravizza; there was my first Provisional Meeting of the Governor’s Policy Committee on 2 March; there was the training of my team of Assistant Governors and District Secretariat officials on 4 March; and most importantly, there was PETS yesterday, 11 March. In between, there were also planning meetings for the next District Assembly scheduled for 6 May, and the District Installation Meeting, for 29 June.

All these are very exciting, but very tiring. And my term of governorship has not even begun. Or has it? I would rather not start a discussion along this vein today. Maybe later. Right now, I hope to reiterate what I said at PETS and underline the importance of the District Assembly and the District Installation Meeting. I urge all my Presidents-elect and their Action Team come for the District Assembly on 6 May. It will be held in Hotel Miramar from 9:00a.m., the same time and venue as for the PETS yesterday. Very, very importantly, I urge you to take as many as possible of your membership to the Installation Meeting on 29 June. I hope all clubs can see their way to reschedule their meeting that week to 29 June, so that we would have a large scale, highly visible and high profile district event.

Before I forget, let me say how glad I was yesterday witnessing my Action Presidents-elect and Secretaries-elect in action during PETS. They are young, professional and business-like; and many of them are really good. I am positive that they would make a good team of leaders, and I am hopeful that we could build up friendship between us that would last for a long while. I must mention my team of Assistant Governors, District Secretariat officials and Past District Governors who have been giving me counsel. Collectively, they have reinforced my conviction that there are sufficient talented and dedicated Rotarians in District 3450, ready, willing and able to carry the banner of Rotary to wherever necessary. We have great leadership in the District and long may that last.

Speaking of leadership reminds me of what Past Governor Raymond Wong said about the ten Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership, which I believe were adapted from a Kent Keith. For the records, I am giving you the text as follows – ·

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered: Love them anyway. ·

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives: Do good anyway. ·

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies: Succeed anyway. ·

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow: Do good anyway. ·

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable: Be honest and frank anyway. ·

The biggest men (women) with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men (women) with the smallest minds: Think big anyway. ·

People favour underdogs but follow only top dogs: Fight for a few underdogs anyway. ·

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight: Build anyway. ·

People really need help but may attack if you do help them: Help them anyway. ·

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth: Give the world the best anyway.

Still on paradox, a friend, Jeremy, emailed me last week “The Paradox of Our Time” from a George Carlin. And here it is – ·

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. ·

We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness. ·

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom and hate too often. ·

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space. ·

We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. ·

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition. ·

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one-nightstands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. ·

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Back to Tree Planting, the paradox seems to be why it always rains when apparently good people gather together with their families and friends on a Sunday to do good to themselves and the environment. The rational answer must be that it normally rains at this time of the year, but there could be other reasons. Why don’t you work on this and let me have your views? Talk to you soon.

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