Some quotes from the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica Cordano, regarded as the humblest president in the world.
He gives 90 per cent of his income away to charities so that what remains is about the same income as the average Uruguayan:
Now Uruguay is accepting a hundred Syrian refugee children – a move the UN has applauded. They will be housed in “the presidency’s summer retreat, a mansion and riverfront estate surrounded by rolling pastures”.
The country has also agreed to accept six released prisoners from the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention centre run by the United States. Mujica described the centre as a disgrace for the United States, “which on the one hand wants to wave the flag of human rights, and assumes the right to criticize the whole world, and then has this well of shame.”
Mujica takes a dim view of the materialistic consumer culture so prevalent in our world today.
We have sacrificed the old immaterial gods, and now we are occupying the temple of the Market-God. He organises 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-marginalised.
On global consumption
We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means, by being prudent, the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction. But we think as people and countries, not as a species.
And here, Mujica unwittingly makes a case for a decent living wage:
On redistribution of wealth
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.”
On donating 90 per cent of his salary to charity
I have a way of life that I don’t change just because I am a president. I earn more than I need, even if it’s not enough for others. For me, it is no sacrifice, it’s a duty.
On his goals for Uruguay
My goal is to achieve a little less injustice in Uruguay, to help the most vulnerable and to leave behind a political way of thinking, a way of looking at the future that will be passed on and used to move forward. There’s nothing short-term, no victory around the corner. I will not achieve paradise or anything like that. What I want is to fight for the common good to progress. Life slips by. The way to prolong it is for others to continue your work.
(Compilation of quotes from World.mic)
Instead of helping the vulnerable, we have certain politicians here who want to chase away the homeless from the city centre and shut down soup kitchens. The soup kitchens are out there largely because our economic system and social safety nets have failed the homeless.
You think any of our politicians could emulate Mujica’s lifestyle and environmental worldview?