the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world
THE WORLD ENVISIONED
The stewardship within the temporal world is devoted to preserving what is good about the world. That requires that it know what is good about the world. By working for what is good and right, and working against what is bad and wrong, the stewardship is essentially working towards an ideal, a situation in which the good and the right has prevailed completely. It should be possible for any steward to describe that ideal, to give the particulars of that situation. In their minds, the stewards must already be living in that world. They must practice the principles which they hope to spread. And so the ideal world exists, in some small part, wherever the stewards are. For my part, I am prepared to describe the ideal which guides me. This text is in fact an exercise of stewardship designed to bring the ideal closer to reality.
The world, as it should be, is one. All individuals in the world recognize their primary affiliation to the whole, not to any part, however defined. They may speak different dialects, dwell in different areas, live somewhat different lifestyles, but they do not identify themselves by these differences. They may have a limited scope of acquaintance with the world and its inhabitants, but they look beyond that limited acquaintance to the broader world, and resist the impulse to view their own sphere as a natural division of the whole. Certainly they do not attach any nationalist or patriotic sentiment to that sphere, or consider that they owe such an arbitrary division a special allegiance.
The relationship between any two persons, regardless of age, familial relation, gender, strength, intellect, or political position, is one of equality, not merely in theory but in practice: a candid, non-deferential equality, as if all individuals were familiars with the same relative social status. Social stratification and all its trappings, including titles, formal address, and humiliation, are avoided, being more appropriate to dominion.
The individual has no religion. Whatever it believes about ethics or cosmology it has come to believe through its own understanding. It uses rational analysis, and relies upon its own judgement. It practices dialectic, exchanging ideas and information with others, in the hopes of refining or revising its own understanding; but in the end it decides for itself the issue of truth. It does not recognize a value in harmonization of belief, and resists any attempt to impose it. The individual is, therefore, individualist, not conformist. It respects the differences of others, and while it may share its opinions and thoughts with them, it would not consider demanding conformity in turn. And thus society as a whole does not promote conformity, and certainly does not enforce it.
The one matter in which accord of belief is sought is the issue of dominion and stewardship. Dominion, like stewardship, is never purely a belief; to believe in it is to act on it. And acting on the principle of dominion is not tolerated, by individuals or society. No one is granted the right to rule; no claim of such a right is recognized. Therefore all individuals are taken to be sovereign over their bodies, and all else is considered a matter of collective responsibility.
The greater society is organized around the principle of stewardship; indeed, the basic institution of society is a stewardship for the world as a whole. This stewardship provides for the needs of the human population in the least destructive way possible, and preserves the natural state to the greatest extent. Its conservation of nature is not a denial of the principle of stewardship and intervention, but a recognition that natural processes are largely beyond human control, and have traditionally been beyond human understanding, rendering intervention more likely harmful than helpful, both to humans and to the ecosystem.
Those who choose to form a living arrangement may consent to any arrangement, but there are some arrangements which they sensibly do not institute, and some which they justly cannot institute. The latter case applies when the domestic arrangement includes some who have not consented, notably the very young. The same standards apply within a household; justice and ethics cannot be waived. And thus the smaller community, like the larger, is egalitarian and communal.
Society recognizes the dichotomy of temporal and transcendent: confusion and truth; superstition and reason; submission and freedom; conformity and individualism; convenience and responsibility; egoism and altruism; power and purpose; dominion and stewardship. Individuals are taught the transcendent principles from the beginning, taught to be responsible, rational, independent. As they mature, they begin to cultivate these qualities in themselves. They begin to exercise responsibility and reason. And they study and train as much as possible, to learn and know as much as possible, both to strengthen their independence, and to improve their ability to contribute as stewards.
In short, instead of government, there is stewardship. Instead of family, there is fellowship. Instead of religion, there is dialectic.
© O.T. FORD
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