What a profound word! What does it mean? Where does it apply and to whom does it apply? In our current selfish society, I doubt this word would ever enter the arena of debate, particularly in Southern Africa and yet it is in Southern Africa where the defining origins of the word might be found. ‘Ubuntu’ – an extraordinary African social philosophy that this country had but which appears to have been lost and a philosophy that the world definitely needs. A humanistic worldview which describes the individual as the sum of those around them, of the community within which they reside, indeed the society within which all individuals live!
Stewardship can be as small as caring and looking after the individual gifts given you through the Grace of God or as large as humankind’s responsibility to the finite resources provided by the Earth! But big or small the responsibility is the same and unfortunately, in general, we appear to be ignoring this responsibility in favour of selfish ideals.
A topical subject is the current US election and though brash and ‘in-your-face’, it does have an outstanding quality – it forces candidates to lay their policies bear for public scrutiny, and so it should! For or against abortion, foreign policy direction, domestic issues, in fact the whole gamut of public opinion in the US – it forces the individual US citizen to exercise stewardship over their country and puts the spotlight on the politician so that he/she will adhere to their responsibility of stewardship over a nation placed into their trust. As utopian as that ideal may sound because reality will show many a divergence from that ideal, it’s a process which does show the practice of stewardship in action – a far cry from home!
A government’s stewardship is wide and varied and is intended to cover ALL citizenry and the land which is their heritage. In particular the government is responsible to those who are most vulnerable in society – the poor, the elderly, the young, the homeless. The government is, in the ethos of ubuntu, the sum of those around them; put another way, the government is the result of the exercising of stewardship by all eligible citizens. Their success or failure reflects directly on the stewardship of the citizen.
How well are we exercising our stewardship?