Something very unusual happened today. Several friends of mine had stared a housing project for us to live in the same neighbourhood, and had asked one of the members to take care of the discussion forward. Unfortunately, the land that we had negotiated and partly paid for fell into litigation due to multiple claimants. This is nothing unusual in certain parts of the country. The discussion, litigation and uncertainty have been going on for the past few years and some of the friends did not have any idea about the progress on the project. Some thought that it has taken too long and their priorities have changed. Since the friend who was taking care of the negotiations was not keeping all the members regularly informed about the constraints and progress, some had developed apprehensions about the future of the whole project.
He called all of us for a briefing session today when he explained everything in detail and said that he wanted to return our initial deposit back with interest at 10 percent per annum. All of us were aghast as except for two, nobody wanted to take the money back; people wanted information, that is all. He said he had sold personal property and raised the money to repay us for the time being and welcomed us back into the project once the legal matter was settled, with the same terms that we had originally. He said he has been feeling morally obliged to do so as he has been feeling very disturbed about the lack of progress of a project that he had initiated and in which people joined because of him. I mentioned that he should not return neither the principal nor interest because he had done everything as a trustee for the members. So long as there is consensus in purpose and transparency in deeds and thoughts, there was no question of him alone shouldering the responsibility for lack of progress in the project. All of us felt very sad about his decision to distribute the money from his pocket since he had already spent most of it to fight the litigation. Finally, we all were forced to accept the money for the time being with a proviso to restart the discussion soon.
To me, my friend behaved more than like a typical steward. He not only owned up personal responsibility for the slow progress of the project but also wanted to ensure that his friends were totally protected from any down side effect. This is sacrifice of the highest order.