Posted by Pete Leenhouts on Jun 22, 2019
Rotarians recognize the importance of our governing principles, which have been developed over the years to provide us with a strong, common purpose and direction. They serve as a foundation for our relationships with each other and the action we take in the world.  The Object of Rotary is the first of those principles, and the one we are considering over this next few days.

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. Rotarians consider the Object of Rotary to have four parts - first, acquaintance, which we considered last week; second, high ethical standards; third,  the application of the ideal of service; and, fourth, the advancement of international understanding through a world fellowship of Rotarians united in the ideal of service.

This week we’ll consider the second part of the Object of Rotary, namely, high ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society.

Ethics are the moral principles that govern a person's behavior in conducting an activity. They’re generally described, in business and the professions, as the set of moral rules that govern how business or the profession operates, how decisions are made and how people are treated. In business as in life, there are many different people one answers to, including customers, employees, shareholders and clients. Treating people fairly, delivering a fair product for a fair price, and treating others as you wish to be treated are all part of adhering to high ethical standards. Of course, there are many examples of individuals taking the low road - that’s what makes the news. What we often don’t consider, in the rush of daily activity, is that the constant, day in and day out application of high ethical standards by people working in all occupations, not just in business and the professions, but across all parts of our society, is an essential part of the invisible bonds that form the trust and confidence that make our culture work.     

A key part of this aspect of the Object of Rotary is the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations. The importance of observing high ethical standards is not limited to business and the professions, but applies to all parts of our society. The high profile chef may receive the credit for creating a new dish, but her success rests on the farmer who grows the food, the mechanic who maintains the farm machinery, the packer who boxes the food, the trucker who delivers it, the restaurant staff that maintains the restaurant and creates the welcoming environment, the dishwashers who keep the plates and cutlery clean - and the bookkeepers who keep the restaurant in the black.  All useful occupations have an essential role to play.     

All occupations present unique opportunities to serve society. Rotarians seek to dignify each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society. Those appearing in the media are often glorified for their service, but our actions, as individuals in all occupations, provide us daily opportunities to be of service - picking up trash along the roads, returning correct change, returning a lost purse intact - even the smallest and seemingly least important actions when ethically pursued can make it possible to serve one another and in the aggregate, our society.    

Rotarians seek to explicitly consider and recognize the importance of high ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society within the second part of the Object of Rotary by aspiring and taking action to achieve them on a daily basis in all of our interactions.   

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