WITH elections just a few months shy, our days and nights are greeted with barrage of bashing here, praising there for the presidential candidates.
We look at the presidentiables and what they say and have done do not translate to their programs. There is a president who finished his term and his life embodies his talk. His name is Jose Mujica, President of Uruguay.
Jose “Pepe” Mujica, a president since 2010, is known to be the world’s poorest president. He donates more than of 90 percent of his $12,000 per month salary to benefit the poor and to help small entrepreneurs. He doesn’t put value on his appearance or clothes. But this is a man who puts more value on other things in life instead.
Before he became president, he was a guerilla fighter for the Tupamaros, someone like “Robin Hood.” This gang literally robbed evil banks, gun clubs, and other businesses to give to the poor. Although I am not in favor of lawlessness, but he truly believed that his value was not in gaining more money, it was in the wellbeing of his country and people. He was imprisoned two times for a total of 14 years and shot six times after an escape attempt. He continued to fight for the people even in his high office as president of Uruguay.
Mujica chose not to live in the beautiful presidential house, but preferred a more humble place to live. His presidential palace is his own home where he has a flower farm and lives with his wife and dogs. Mujica said: “There’s no reason for money, fame, and a nice place to sleep when you can be humble and live on a farm. His part time farming job, keeps him aware of the struggles and life that most other people of his country go through.
Popularly known as the poorest president, Mujica strongly disagrees. He said, “I’m not the poorest president. The poorest is the one who needs a lot to live… My lifestyle is a consequence of my wounds. I’m the son of my history.”
In the Rio+20 United Nations Conference, Mujica said: “the person who really is poor is the person that continues to need more and more and more and desires more and more.”
This president’s example is a testament to how we should live our lives.
We don’t need more things to be happy. In fact, some of the wealthiest people in the world, have their wealth stored in the currency of unselfishness, kindness, and true love.
Mujica said, “I have a way of life that I don’t change just because I am a president. As soon as politicians start climbing up the ladder, they suddenly become kings. I don’t know how it works, but what I do know is that republics came to the world to make sure that no one is more than anyone else. You need a palace, red carpet, a lot of people behind you saying ‘Yes, sir.’ I think all of that is awful.”
Modest yet bold, liberal and fun-loving, Mujica is known for his unusual frankness, fiery oration, and bold leadership to turn ideas into action, the 79-year-old leader possesses and practices the very characteristics that many world leaders fail to emulate.
Mujica practices the simplicity he preaches. Here are some of his quotes:
“I’ve seen some springs that ended up being terrible winters. We human beings are gregarious. We can’t live alone. For our lives to be possible, we depend on society. It’s one thing to overturn a government or block the streets. But it’s a different matter altogether to create and build a better society, one that needs organization, discipline and long-term work. Let’s not confuse the two of them. I want to make it clear: I feel sympathetic with that youthful energy, but I think it’s not going anywhere if it doesn’t become more mature.”
“We have sacrificed the old immaterial gods, and now we are occupying the temple of the Market-God. He organizes our economy, our politics, our habits, our lives, and even provides us with rates and credit cards and gives us the appearance of happiness.”
“It seems that we have been born only to consume and to consume, and when we can no longer consume, we have a feeling of frustration, and we suffer from poverty, and we are auto-marginalized.”
“We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means, by being prudent, the seven billion people in the world could have everything they needed.”
“Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce,” “It’s no mystery — the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources.”
“To live in accordance with how one thinks, be yourself and don’t try to impose your criteria on the rest. I don’t expect others to live like me. I want to respect people’s freedom, but I defend my freedom. And that comes with the courage to say what you think, even if sometimes others don’t share those views.”
Mujica left office with a high approval rate, enjoyed huge public support during his reign with his Spartan lifestyle and popular policies being the most relishing. Uruguay has witnessed rising salaries and a historically low unemployment rate.
Let this be a mantra to our presidentiables, “A president is a high level official who is elected to carry out a function. He is not a king, not a god. He is not a witch doctor of a tribe who knows everything. He is a civil servant. I think the ideal way of living is to live like the majority of people whom we attempt to serve and represent.”