Target: Uruguayan President Jose Mujica
Goal: Commend President Mujica for living a lifestyle that reflects a true understanding of the planet’s needs
When it comes to wealth and power, Jose Mujica, the current president of Uruguay, is unlike most of the world’s leaders. Rather than embrace the comfort and luxury of the state-provided presidential mansion, President Mujica elected to continue living on his wife’s old farmhouse outside of the capital city of Montevideo.
His decision to live a life of simplicity, one in solidarity with the vast majority of Uruguayans, hardly stops there. Applaud President Mujica for setting a positive example of leadership not only for Uruguay, but for the world at large.
This austere lifestyle sets a new precedent for leadership. The president and his wife continue working their farmland themselves, guarded by only two police officers. 90% of Mr. Mujica’s monthly salary—equivalent to $12,000—is donated to charitable organizations that benefit poor families and small entrepreneurs.
His charitable acts mean that his take home salary is on par with the average income of Uruguayan families: $775 a month. While his declared wealth may only be a third of what his predecessor made, he says he has always lived like this and has grown accustomed to it.
In a BBC article, Mujica states, “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.” He reiterated this point at the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012, challenging world leaders to assess what they meant by sustainable development.
Mujica expressed his fear that the planet could not withstand a model of development built on satisfying increasing wants. He noted that while sustainable development claims to help move the poorest of the poor out of poverty, it really is touting the wealthiest nations’ obsession with bigger, better, and newer goods. This hyper-consumption, he said, is what will unravel the planet.
Unlike most world leaders, President Mujica practices what he preaches; he lives a life of simplicity while calling others to do the same, all for the betterment of the global society. Applaud Uruguay’s president for his courageous and conscientious lifestyle.
Dear President Mujica,
Your decision to live a life of simplicity is a model to the global community. Your willingness to give 90% of your income to help poor families and small entrepreneurs sets an example for all those leaders of the world. Unlike so many, you truly practice what you preach and live in solidarity with the people you are sworn to serve.
Your freely elected lifestyle gives you a unique ability to speak about the crises facing our planet. Your outspoken critique of the development models currently being promulgated by the Western powers at the Rio+20 Summit in June 2012 was an important insight. Your words and actions remind the global community of what should be most prioritized.
I encourage you to continue your good work in Uruguay, and to continue setting an example for the whole world.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: n i f via Flickr