the assumption of responsibility for the welfare of the world
YĪN AND YÀNG IN THE STEWARDSHIP
The stewardship is not monolithic, as must be repeatedly stressed. The Stewardship Union will reflect its diversity. Specifically, the dichotomy between dominion and stewardship is further divided by a dichotomy within stewardship itself. There are two halves of the spirit of stewardship. One is passive, one is active. One is peaceful, one is warlike. One nurtures, one defends. It would be a rare steward who did not combine all of these elements to some degree or other. But one particular aspect is most divisive, and when we do not recognize the value of each side and the fundamental unity of our purpose, the stewardship is vulnerable to schism.
Many stewards are pacifists. They abhor violence, and condemn war, will not fight and will not countenance fighting. This can and should be respected as a moral stand. Pacifists are right to point out that if all individuals refrained from violence, there would be universal peace. They are right to follow the universal imperative, the golden rule, that a person should behave as it would have all persons behave.
But the two points do not necessarily fit together. Other stewards would point out that it is not wrong to use violence, merely to initiate violence. Once peace has been broken, it must be restored. That cannot always be done by remaining non-violent.
The practitioners of passive resistance, who allow themselves to be beaten in witness to injustice, are exceedingly courageous, and their sacrifice is worthy of honor. Passive resistance is admirable. But it is not required. Its use is tactical, not moral. If it is effective, then it has merit. There is some appeal to the argument which tells us to rise above the level of our adversaries. There is certainly political value in demonstrating to the world that violence is securely on the side of the dominion. But to ask all individuals to suffer rather than fight back is to ask too much. A person who is attacked may act in self-defense. This is the right of every animal, including the human.
And while the pacifists among the stewardship remain non-violent, the violence of the dominion continues. The damage that a violent individual can cause is considerable. The damage that many violent individuals acting in concert can cause is unimaginable. And so there are those among us whose interpretation of stewardship, of the need to preserve and protect life, to aid those in need, calls on them to intervene in a violent situation, to prevent damage, injury, suffering, death. They resolve to end the situation as quickly as they justly can. If this means that the violent individuals are brought under control using violence, it is to them preferable to allowing violence against the innocent to continue. They assume the responsibility to defend against violence, and they are not wrong.
Resistance to dominion is basic to the stewardship, and it can be done actively or passively. The practice of stewardship is based on the earnest desire to do what is in the best interests of the world and its inhabitants. We as stewards must recognize that we will not always agree on what that demands of us, and yet remain willing to work together whenever we can, because that clearly is in the best interests of the world.
© O.T. FORD
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