Posted on Apr 19, 2020
Engage do not rely on the automatic.
Engaging with each other is one of the most important things we do.
Its the personal engagement that matters.
There I was, in my car, windows up, self-isolating, stuck at the lights.  Why are the lights always red, I ask myself?  Why can’t they make the greens longer?    Waiting, I cast my eye over all the gadgets.  And I figured out that practically everything is automated.
 
I thought back to my old Morris Minor.  GYO204.  Brilliant.  Top speed of 40 miles an hour.  And the thing was – it involved you in lots of activity.  It was like your partner at a dance.  You waltzed around together. To start the engine, you had to get the starting handle from the boot, go around to the front, fix it in, then pull it up with a big heave, and after about six goes, it would start up.  Then there was the gear stick, attached to the floor, which, synchronized with the clutch, you had to move into a new position as the speed changed.  And then, to indicate a turn, you put your arm out the window – straight for a right-hand turn, flapping up and down for a left-hand turn, and straight-up, bent at the elbow, for a stop.
 
The windows were opened and shut by a handle in the door, and there was a little triangular shaped window with a lever, in front of the main window, to catch the cross-breeze.
 
When it was getting dark, you had to pull over, and walk around to the rear of the car to switch on the tail-light.  And, of course, you had to get out to open the gates, as well as the garage door.   For cooling, when you were driving around in 100 degree heat, you stuck wet hessian bags in the windows, and in front of the radiator.
 
But now – that’s all gone.  Everything is automated.  All we have to do is press a button for doors and boots to open, for windows to go up and down, for petrol caps to pop up.  An automated voice that tells us where to go.  We have so many buttons our dashboards look like we’re flying an Airbus 380.  That’s what we’re used to, nowadays.  Everything’s automatic.
 
All fine at one level.  Not so fine at another.
 
We’re not like today’s cars. Just pressing buttons won’t cut it.  We need to engage.  Personally. 
 
And right now this means we need consciously to engage with each other.  Take the trouble to find out how all our Rotary members are coping.  For some, being in confinement might be a blessing.  A chance to read all those books we always said we would but never have.  Catalogue all those CDs.  Clear out the shed.  Savour some peace and quiet.
 
But this won’t work forever, and the point of Rotary is to value people for who they are, how they feel, and understand what they’re striving for.  Engaging with each other is one of the most important things we do.  Hopefully we’ll soon be back on track with our regular meetings. But until then, we can’t sit back and think that all we have to do is to press a button and hope we’ll get through.  The automatic approach won’t work. We need to take responsibility for all our members, individually.   It’s the personal engagement that matters.  
 
The Very Reverend Dr John Shepherd AM

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