When International President Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada called me forward and named me as an Ambassador of Good Will last summer, I was honored but didn’t feel the full impact of the designation. For me, the title of Ambassador of Good Will meant that within the organization of Lions Clubs International, I had earned this designation because of service as an International Director. In some ways, it was a recognition that I had successfully completed my two-year term of office. Don’t misunderstand, I truly am honored to be an Ambassador of Good Will for Lions Clubs International and I wear my pin with pride as I represent the international association I love.
But, recent events have caused me to think further about what this designation means and the role anyone who holds this designation should play in the world. Being an Ambassador of Good Will carries with it a greater responsibility than I had first thought. As Lions we are called upon in our founding documents to promote international understanding and harmony, to cast aside our ethnocentric perspectives and to embrace diversity and inclusion. Lions believe that new ideas and perspectives will move our organization successfully into its second century of service. While non-political, this objective cannot help but associate Lions with those who promote the global ideals of acceptance and cooperation. After all, Lions Clubs International played a key role in the creation of the United Nations in 1945 because we understood what international acceptance and cooperation was all about.
As Ambassadors of Good Will, we cast aside our privilege—whatever that might be—and roll up our sleeves to help people who need assistance: refugees, children, and those who are vulnerable to the ravages of blindness, poverty, disease, natural disaster, and war. We have the courage of our convictions to be patient and persistent in the pursuit of peace and harmony at all costs. We dare to dream of a world where we can come together and thrive, wherever we live and with whomever we choose. In small towns and in great cities, we are the leaders who get things done because we cross all lines—economic, social, political, religious—to work for a better world. We climb new mountains every day.
Lions decry politics and personal gain as the motivation for service. Lions accept and serve the needs of others as a vocation. We believe that we will not be successful as individuals until we have helped others to be successful as well. That is what our Founder Melvin Jones believed, and that is what being a Lion has always meant to me, and that is what will continue to motivate me to serve.
I hope that all Ambassadors of Good Will use their highly valued designation in meaningful ways in the days and months ahead to help their communities. We must continue to reach out to those who represent different perspectives and cultural views and find ways to include their point of view in our deliberations. We must not allow our communities to become more polarized. We must bring people together to discuss and understand that differences are not bad; that people should not live in fear; that we truly will not be great until all people are part of the equation.
As an Ambassador of Good Will, I want everyone I know that I will do everything I can to promote peace, understanding, and love for all. I will strive to promote conscious competence in how people communicate with each other. We need to be conscious of how our messages are being received and understood by others; and we need to remember that how we share our ideas with others requires competence—the practice of being willing to hear the other’s point of view, to be helpful instead of hurtful in the way we respond, and to realize that not everyone shares the same view of how the world is or should be—and that if we truly want to help our country and world to move forward, we need to be an Ambassador of Good Will every day.
–Past International Director Robert Littlefield, USA