By: Amanda Froelich,
It’s easy to express opinion on the ‘what’s’ and ‘ifs’ of life, but rarely do individuals who feel so strongly about the necessity to share more act upon their strongly formed beliefs. One inspirational figure who has side-stepped the guilt and ego tied up in arguing over proper societal standards to live by is Jose Mujica, the president of Uruguay who has willingly kept himself in lower societal class to help others.
Mujica, 77, was elected in 2009 of the second smallest nation in South America; however, he has no interest in taking on the grand presidential life.
Humbly living in a farmhouse off the dirt road with his wife, whom both toil the soil, Mujica donates 90% of his salary to charity and lives completely satisfied, clear that he does not need more to appreciate life. The austere leader earns approximately $12,500 a month, but only keeps $1,250 for himself, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported.
“I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less,” Jose told the paper. His focus is on helping the poor and supporting the entrepreneurs. Seeing beyond the temporary pleasures afforded by consumer-driven living, his heart goes out to all the people, knowing the best way he can help is to be the change.
“This is a matter of freedom,” he told BBC News. “If you don’t have many professions then you don’t need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself.” Mujica’s passion for change isn’t limited to the example he shares; instead, he’s also intent on impressing his philanthropic ways to other world leaders.
His philosophy on poverty and consumption was shared at the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in June. “If all I’m doing is working to buy things to get more, if society of consumption is the energy of everything, where does this go?” he asked. “We need to start to fight for another kind of culture.”
Openly accusing other world leaders of having a “blind obsession to achieve growth with consumptions”, the president is clearly in opposition to left-brained obsession of achieving more whilst forgetting it’s people. His argument draws in environmental factors and respect for the societies governed by its many leaders.
And regarding his ‘poor’ lifestyle which has gained criticism, Jose has remarked that, “I’m called ‘the poorest president’, but I don’t feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more”.
Thanks to Jose’s plight, Uruguay is on the forefront of change; becoming one of the first nations to possibly legalize Marijuana and drive focus to helping all of its people, many more positive changes are sure to be implemented.
In Jose Mujica’s logic, if we are all here together in the same world, shouldn’t we take care of our brothers and sisters? What areas of your life could you give more from?