To the CSR 3.0 practitioner or social entrepreneur out there, you may find yourself asking, “Why am I doing this?” For some of us, we may ask why we are trading off the chance to earn a six-digit figure every month, or why we need to exert the additional effort to properly segregate what is recyclable and what is not (and to actually ensure the former is recycled).
Why, indeed? This is a question I ask myself sometimes, when I’m feeling either down or pensive.
I consider myself blessed to have had the privilege all my life to come under the tutelage of the Society of Jesus – for my elementary, secondary, and tertiary education. It’s no secret the Jesuits are known for training their pupils and students to become leaders – the perpetrators of change and development – and, in the process, become attuned to the plight of the less fortunate and accept that they who have been given much ought to give much in return, too. After all, we can’t take our material wealth to the grave and beyond.
But obviously, this is not limited to Jesuit school students. Any and every person – even the non-Christian – who stays true to their faith, their God, knows that the basic building block of society is to be a “good person”. This comes in many different versions throughout religions, cultures, and norms – but in the end, we have our moral duty to be, well, moral. Very broad, you may think, but this is the very basis of CSR 3.0 – to realize that we are responsible for each and every stakeholder in our lives – personal, professional, and everything in between.
For us Christians, we were sent here with a purpose. As we can find in Genesis 1:26-29, when God created man, He created him in His image and likeness, and gave him authority over the rest of creation. However, this does not mean we are free to abuse it and ruin it – otherwise, God would not have created it in the first place. That He made us to be in His own image means that we are now thus responsible for maintaining and developing what God made, and only for the purpose of boasting of His love and greatness.
This is Christian stewardship in its most fundamental form. We are God’s stewards of creation, meaning we are responsible for our actions, each and every one of them. Now, it is up to us to accept this universal truth and live it out – or not. BCYF translates this as an invitation to practice CSR 3.0.
Hence, the explanation behind the answer when we ask ourselves why we are doing this. It’s because we were meant to do so.
The term vocation comes from the Latin word vocare, “to call”, and it has been used several times in the Bible figuratively, such as the line “Out of Egypt I called my Son” in reference to the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt and subsequent return to Nazareth. Today, it is used to refer to that pestering feeling that something – in particular a certain field of interest – is the one for us. In my synthesizing theology class in college, which was all about commitment given everything we learned the past years, vocation was contrasted with careerism, which eschews this calling to do so-and-so for the sake of things such as but not limited to a huge salary, prestiges, high positions, and the like.
Personally, it has been hard for me to live out what I believe my vocation is. Since being introduced to social enterprise in my junior year of college, I knew at once that I was being called to end poverty through business. True, my glossophiliac dreams remained (and remain) – I still want to develop fluency in many languages and enter the academe with such – but I knew – I know – that until I have truly given a hand in rebuilding this nation, I will not have lived out my purpose fully yet.
Why is this? Because no matter our situation, we are always responsible for others. No one is an island, and no one can truly isolate himself from society and not have an impact. Anything and everything we do can and will leave one. True, it may not seem much on an individual level, but when this comes together through the efforts of many, the effect is exponential. This is why we are called to lead change, not to just do it. This is why social enterprise is that – because we help and lead out of poverty. We have been given the eternal title of Steward of Creation, and as long as we live on this earth, nothing will ever change that.
Yes, it can be a struggle, and it often is. If one thinks discovering and living out one’s vocation is easy, they had better think again. Living out your purpose is difficult because it involves growth on so much levels – a very integral, all-encompassing growth – and especially in today’s materialistic world of high-speed Internet gadgets, luxury goods, and the like, it is very tempting to accelerate financial and social growth at the expense of the spiritual and even personal aspects. But the rewards are hundredfold – that feeling of deep, deep satisfaction and joy that we know for certain we truly are doing God’s will on earth.
It goes without saying, therefore, that the themes of the past two Philippine Conferences on Research in CSR are very apt for Christian stewardship reflections – “Doing Good is Not Good Enough”, and “CSR is Not Just for Business”. Anyone can say they are doing good deeds, but the truly good always goes one step further for the sake of the common good. And you don’t have to be a businessman to practice CSR – CSR 3.0 shows it can and must start with the person himself, to lead to maximum, authentic growth for the sake of creation and the Creator.