20Plan de travail 42

Is Internal Democracy at Lions Clubs International in Crisis?

My fellow Lions,

First, let me clarify that the following reflections are my own personal opinion. They relate to events connected with the upcoming international elections in Melbourne, which, much to my regret, give me the feeling that while Lions membership is growing worldwide, our internal democracy seems to be steadily, and lately, flagrantly weakening.

The most striking and certainly the most worrying example is the twists and turns surrounding the candidacy for the International Third Vice-Presidency. These complications are likely to dampen members’ enthusiasm for the world’s largest philanthropic association. As outlined below, the LCI Board decided that the next International Third Vice-Presidency should go to a Lion from Africa, in accordance with the principle of rotation of Lions constitutional areas. In July 2023, the Board chose to endorse PID Manoj Shah of Kenya over PID Vincent Alexis Gomès, who was more popular in Africa.

At the African Lions Forum in November 2023, the Lions voted to choose their candidate, and the result was a real shock: over 70% voted in favor of Alexis Vincent Gomès. It seemed logical to expect the Association’s leaders to acknowledge this vote and consequently to stop openly promoting one of the two candidates, leaving the Lions to decide according to their conscience.

However, this was not the case. On the contrary, Alexis Vincent Gomès was not allowed to express himself during some forums. One might think that the strong personality of PID Gomès arouses an incomprehensible anxiety in some people.

So I asked myself: perhaps we have forgotten the meaning of “LIONS.”

The name represents not only the original meaning Melvin Jones gave it—fraternity, friendship, strength of character, and vitality—but also “Liberty, Intelligence, Security of our Nations.” And isn’t freedom the basis of democracy?

If, instead, we choose to replace freedom with constraint, won’t our much-vaunted democracy disappear?

Dear Lion Delegate, I hope you will cast your vote with the full conviction that you are making a choice not dictated by support for a candidate who already believes himself to be the winner. Make your choice so that you can be proud of having contributed with your vote to the election of a Lion according to the rules of democracy as they apply to our Association.

For those who are still hesitating about Alexis Vincent Gomès, meet him in Melbourne and judge his human and Lion qualities firsthand.

Yours sincerely,
Turi Grasso *

* I am a member of the Taormina Lions Club in District 108yb. In 2021, at the 69th National Congress of District 108 of Italy, I had the honor of receiving the International Leadership Medal from the International President of Lions Club International, Dr. Jung-Yul Choi, for “Having been a significant link for Italian lionism and for Sicilian lionism in particular, as well as for the Lions of the Arab Maghreb and the Middle East.”

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