Stewardship: A special MLK Day message


Given that COVID-19 is preventing any gatherings, I am humbly and respectfully asking readers when driving today to please drive with your headlights on bright to honor and commemorate the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his contributions to civil and human rights in America and the world. You can even give a blink or flash with your headlights to others with their lights on in solidarity—make it a fun driving experience. My breed of people who marched with Dr. King are becoming extinct and, at 71 years old, I’m still fighting to keep hope and the dream alive and I sincerely appreciate your help in celebrating MLK Day today, Jan. 17, 2022.

I can remember Jesse Jackson yelling and hammering it into us in the civil rights movement meetings in Memphis to “keep hope alive—keep the dream alive” and that’s why I’m writing this today 54 years later in hopes of honoring Dr. King and to remind those who care to do their part to keep hope and Dr. King’s dream alive whenever the opportunity presents itself. The Bible tells us that God gave all mankind, not just some but all, dominion over the Earth with the expectations that we as humans would be good stewards of the planet. Stewards are merely caretakers whose role is only for the short time of their life in the perpetual evolution of our planet and species. Yes, we are on a continuing evolutionary path of change that is driven by the human desire “to be the best that we can be” which has allowed mankind to advance significantly, especially in the realm of technology, but this desire to be the best has even caused racism, conflicts and wars. We must be mindful as stewards of this Earth and Commonwealth to avoid the pitfalls of poor stewardship in the continued evolution of our nation and islands. I’m sure most will agree about knowing the prophetic phrase that “nothing remains the same” as it reflects the fact that our planet and we as a people are continuing to evolve and change and it’s up to the stewards to make that a progressive change for improvements, unlike the regression of economy and quality of life we are seeing and experiencing today.

The results of our poor stewardship when it comes to our environmental footprint on the planet is now starting to show with climate change, which we as humans must take far more seriously before it’s too late because most of our adverse effects on our environment can’t be undone. As for the evolution of our small society in the CNMI, the only question is, will our evolution be a progressive movement of good stewardship to improve our government, economy and quality of life, or will our evolution continue to be driven by poor stewardship and full of pitfalls of government austerities and corruption, economic failures on all the populated islands with a continued decline in the quality of life? The decision as to which path our evolution will take is entirely in the hands of the stewards of the CNMI, not the politicians and not even the church but the people. So one must ask: Am I being a good or bad steward of the CNMI?

What makes you a good steward does not require a lot of you, which is mainly your vote but it does require a lot in you to be honest, forthright, just, and fair in your responsibilities to your family and fellow citizens, not loyalty to one person. I clearly remember Dr. King challenging me and other youth in the SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, with the late Rep. John Lewis as its president) to give it our all and to fully participate in the civil rights movement with the question of: “If not you then who and if not now, then when?” That same question applies to the stewardship of the CNMI as many locals continue to leave for the mainland, especially when their life goals can’t be attained in the CNMI.

The people and especially the leaders of our Commonwealth need to be mindful that not only do we need physical infrastructure for a good quality of life, we also need “humanity infrastructure” that is diverse, with the ability to provide more avenues of opportunities for the desired life goals of our youth without the need for leaving the CNMI. It’s called progress! But you can’t progress and grow big by thinking small. I want to share some advice my mother gave me when I asked her what should I do out here about the absence of a Baptist church. She said, “Ambrose, attend any church that worships Jesus Christ and keep in mind that all the big fish in the ocean eat all the little fish, so you need to learn how to grow big.” The Romans might also remind us that “fortune favors the brave” who will work and pursue prosperity, not those hoping and waiting on some foreign investor to come in and make them rich!

The CNMI people and leaders must become better stewards if the CNMI is to become a better place. We as a Commonwealth must learn to grow big if we expect and want big results and outcomes for a better quality of life. But more importantly, the core of the problems facing the CNMI has been the poor and misleading politricks stewardship of the Republican leadership and I’m sure Dr. King might say: “If the CNMI is to truly be a first-class destination of America, then there can’t be any second-class American citizens in the CNMI.” If we the people can become better and fair stewards of the CNMI, the fortunes we have desired will surely follow. Thanks for supporting MLK Day and have a happy and safe MLK Day!

Ambrose M. Bennett
Kagman III, Saipan

Contributing Author
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