A reader brought to my attention José Mujica as an example of a rare and wise leader.
José Mujica, nicknamed Pepe Mujica, was President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. A former Tupamaros freedom fighter in the 60s and the 70s, he was detained, like a hostage by the dictatorship between 1973 and 1985. He advocates a philosophy of life focused on sobriety: learn to live with what is necessary and fairest.
Here is an excellent interview with Mujica:
A few quotes from the interview stood out for me:
Either you’re happy with very little, free of all that extra luggage, because you have happiness inside, or you don’t get anywhere! I am not advocating poverty. I am advocating sobriety.
But since we have invented a consumer society, the economy must constantly grow. If it fails to increase, it’s a tragedy. We have invented a mountain of superfluous needs. Shopping for new, discarding the old… That’s a waste of our lives!
When I buy something, when you buy something, you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing money can’t buy. Life only gets shorter. And it is pitiful to waste one’s life and freedom that way.
It is shameful that for 25 years, since the Kyoto Accords, we are still dragging our feet to take basic measures. It is shameful. Man may very well be the only animal capable of self-destruction. The is the dilemma facing us. I only hope that I am wrong.