The phrase “think globally, act locally” has an interesting and disputed history. According to that most reliable of sources, Wikipedia, several people claim to have coined the expression. The phrase has been attributed to Scottish town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes back in 1915. Friends of the Earth founder David Brower has claimed it was his idea in 1971 as has Pulitzer Prize winner and scientist Rene Jules Dubos, Canadian futurist Frank Feather and French theologian Jacques Ellul. I think my mother also suggested that her son, Jimmy, came up with the phrase in the early 1960s.
Regardless of its origin, the concept is in need of refinement. I would humbly suggest improving the phrase to “Act globally, act locally”. You could call it “glocal action” because simply thinking about problems doesn’t solve them. As Albert Einstein proclaimed, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”.
Now I like thinking up a good plan as much as anyone, but without action you lapse into “Ready, Aim….Aim….Aim….without ever firing a shot of solution. And what movie was ever made where the film director readied the actors and stage hands by saying “AAAAAAND—think about it!”
I’m glad Rotary is a glocal action organization. When you click to the Rotary International website the first thing you see is this:
We are People of Action
Our Our global (should it read “glocal”?) network of 1.4 million neighbors, friends, and leaders volunteer their skills and resources to solve issues and address community needs.
You can see the reality of this statement by simply looking at the activities of Club 29. As Matt Brown reported last month, “From ongoing refugee tragedies related to conflict in Ukraine and Syria to natural disasters of drought, flooding and earthquakes in Somalia, Pakistan and Turkey Club 29, through the Rotary Club 29 Foundation, consistently strives to impact lives in these disaster areas.” Closer to home, Club 29 rings bells for the Salvation Army, builds big red barns in NE Oklahoma City and funds the Expedition Africa Playground and the Helping Hands Granting Match. Club 29 acts glocal!
So when a need arises, either locally or globally, it’s not enough to say “You’re in our thoughts and prayers”. We need to say “You’re in our thoughts and prayers as shown by our actions.” Act glocal. Remember, Rotarians are “People of Action”.
You can kick the tires and light the fires!