MARK DANIEL MALONEY
I love to travel! I even enjoy the mundane
process of getting from here to there. But last year,
my wife, Gay, and I had one of those experiences
that would strain the optimism of even the most
cheerful traveler. We found ourselves with six
hours to wait, at an airport where we were not
scheduled to be, on a day we had not planned still
to be traveling, having woken up that morning at
a hotel unknown to us the night before. It was one
of those days.
As we waited at John F. Kennedy International
Airport in New York City, Gay and I took a walk
to people watch. We went from one end of the
terminal to the other and back, looking at every
gate, every destination, every group of people
waiting for their flights.
Each gate was its own island of humanity. When
we walked down the center of the concourse, we
were in New York, moving along with everyone in
one river. But when you veered off into those seats,
you left that current and landed on an island. You
were already in Delhi or Paris or Tel Aviv.
As we started our walk, I thought: “All these
different people, all these different countries, all
in one place. This is like Rotary!” But as we walked
past gate after gate, I realized something. It was
not like Rotary at all. Because everyone in that river
was heading for an island. And every island stayed
an island. The people heading to Taipei might be
talking to one another, but they were not talking
to the people heading to Cairo or Lagos.
Contrast that with Rotary. Rotary allows us to
connect with one another, in deep and meaningful
ways, across our differences. It connects us with
people we would never otherwise have met, who
are more like us than we ever could have known.
It connects us to our communities, to professional
opportunities, and to the people who need
Connection is what makes the experience of
Rotary so very different from walking along that
concourse at JFK Airport. In Rotary, none of us is an
island. All of us are in Rotary together, whoever we
are, wherever we are from, whatever language we
speak or traditions we follow. We are all connected
to one another — part of our communities and
members not only of our clubs, but also of the
global community to which we all belong.
This connection is what lies at the heart of the
Rotary experience. It is what brings us to Rotary.
It is why we stay. Please join your fellow Rotarians
on this journey as Rotary Connects the World.