The Moab Rotary Club has donated $1,000 to a crime reduction program in Colombia as part of Rotary International’s challenge to its clubs around the world to help make peace happen.
Britta Kingsley, the wife of Moab Rotary committee chairman Joe Kingsley, presented the check to Colombian National Police officials in January during a police officer graduation ceremony in Cartagena, Colombia. Joe Kingsley said this week that his wife asked everyone in the audience to contribute and $22,000 was raised in three hours.
Peace is this year’s Rotary International theme. Moab Rotarians also are challenging other chapters through Rotary International to make gifts to the program, which purchases booklets titled “The Way to Happiness.” The booklet was written by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, and distributed through The Way to Happiness Foundation, which describes the booklet at “not part of any religious doctrine.”
The tract, subtitled “A Common Sense Guide to Better Living,” provides information about how people can deal in a positive way with dysfunctional situations, Joe Kingsley said. It emphasizes the importance of such things as tolerance, truthfulness, fulfilling one’s obligations, being trustworthy and setting a good example.
Joe Kingsley said in a news release that after distributing the booklet to 20 percent of the Colombian population, that nation’s police force reported a 50 percent drop in crime 18 months later. Crime in Cartagena is the lowest it has been in 22 years, making it one of the safest cities in South America, according to the news release.
The Moab Rotary Club’s part in distributing copies of “The Way to Happiness” has happened under the direction of the club’s president, Tara Richardson, who likened the booklet’s philosophy to the Golden Rule.
“Sometimes when you have a negative and can put in a positive, it changes the current,” she said. “When I scanned through the book and knew we needed a peace project, this kind of fit in.”
The program based on “The Way to Happiness” is expanding to five other South American countries and Mexico, Joe Kingsley said. Its philosophy seeks to turn people away from a life of crime by offering forgiveness to those who “come clean,” he said.
“We would like [Rotary] clubs across the country to match our donation to a program that works, rather than reinventing the wheel,” Joe Kingsley said. “When you commit violence, you are hurting yourself and your community.”
Efforts are being made to include the Moab Rotary emblem on the back cover of future copies of “The Way to Happiness” that are distributed in Colombia, Joe Kingsley said.
He added that Boston Police Department has seen a big reduction in street crime since distribution of a similar book titled “Don’t Shoot – One Man, a Street Fellowship, and the End of Violence in Inner-city America,” which was written by professor David M. Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice.