Monday, April 21, 2014

Jose Mujica, The Godly President and the song of the one percent



Jose Mujica on his farm
While democracy has spread across the world,  many politicians are not regarded very highly by the population at large in several countries. Several are seen as working for their own interests or to protect the interests of a vested minority and sing the song of the one percent.

However on this scene there is a clear exception. He is Jose Mujica, the President of Uruguay, a politician who is loved by his people. José Mujica has been President of Uruguay since 2010. Mujica was born on 20 May 1935 to Demetrio of Basque Spanish ancestry and Lucy, a daughter of Italian immigrants. Mujica's father was a small farmer who faced bankruptcy.

At a time when many world leaders impose austerity on their citizens, Mujica himself maintains a simple and austere lifestyle. He has been described as the world's poorest president due to his austere lifestyle.  Yet in his heart he regards himself as the richest and most fortunate of human beings. The joy of this contendedness shines brilliantly on his face. He says,

"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,"

True enough, how can one measure riches by wealth alone? A poor person is one who wants, not one who gives. The richest is the one who gives away most of his income most of the time. He refused to live in the Presidential Palace, but instead lives on his wife's simple farm on the outskirts of Montevideo where he and his wife grow and sell fruits and flowers. He drives an old 1987 VW beetle. He donates 90% of his Presidential salary to charity. He’s a citizen like any other, except he doesn’t have a bank account. Mujica’s annual salary is about US$ 150,000 but he keeps only 10% of it for personal expenses and transfers the rest to a Foundation which supports small productive enterprises and NGOs working on housing developments for the poor. Mujica offered the use of the official presidential residence to serve as shelter for homeless families. He dresses casually like an ordinary farmer most times but is not averse to wearing a suit and tie if the occasion demands. Needless to say it is gentle humanity and joy that is written all over his countenance rather than sleaze and misery often found on the faces of many other politicians along with a sulk and a frown.

Under his mandate, Uruguay has prospered economically and socially to become one of the most paradise like countries on the planet.  He is a socialist but is not averse to capitalism when it helps everyone rather than just a few. The unemployment rate in Uruguay is lower than that of the US.

Many of his views on God and religion are similar to those of Buddha except that he does not regard life as  suffering but as as something beautiful worth cherishing and an opportunity to contribute joy to the world. He neither affirms God nor denies Him, regarding the entire Universe, all of nature and all life within it as a manifestation of a Universal consciousness. Needless to say he is a vegetarian but in an informal Lovegan way like Buddha not in a fanatical vegan way. It is a view of spirituality that is similar to a view of spirituality as portrayed in this blog. In his own words:

"Every day I believe a little bit more in Nature. I learned this very simple lesson: life is beautiful so you have to live it with intensity and pursue happiness.”

A Scene from Uruguay
In June 2012, his government made a move to legalize state-controlled sales of marijuana in order to fight illegal drug trade and the misery it causes. Time magazine featured an article on the matter. Mujica said that by regulating marijuana business, the state will take it away from drug traffickers, and weaken the drug cartels. The state would also be able to keep track of all marijuana consumers in the country, and provide treatment to the most serious abusers, much like what is done with alcoholics. There is an older post on Cannabis in this blog that describes how keeping cannabis illegal is harming humanity rather than helping it although it does create a profit for criminals and others who feed on that profit that includes officials and politicians. As a result, instead of killing each other in huge numbers and ending up with a corrupt police force as in Mexico and other countries, under the project 'war on drugs', Urguayans are loving and kissing each other instead, while psychiatric sickness and drug related crime common in many other countries is fast disappearing from the land. The contribution of cannabis to improve psychiatric health has been discussed in detail in this blog at the earlier link on cannabis. A side benefit is that alcohol related deaths from road accidents have also come down because some of the people now smoke hash instead which appears to be less addictive than tobacco and kills fewer people than alcohol.

Uruguay, under the leadership of one enlightened leader based in love and truth,  Jose Mujica won the war on drugs with love, not guns while in other countries such as Mexico they are still busy killing each other over it.

More recently, moved by compassion and concern, he volunteered to take some Guantanamo Bay prisoners in his country. Therefore here is one person, a President, one can not but help classify as a saint or godly. He does not belong to the present but to a future when the world moves away from the rule of hypocrisy and one percent to a rule that caters to the interests of the majority while protecting interests of minorities. Currently, the world has yet to move out of even one person rule in all of the countries of the world. It was not too long ago that the world was ruled by kings and queens and therefore it does not see absurdities of amazing concentrations of wealth and/or power in a few hands while others are homeless or starve. Needless to say. the more it is the rule of one person in reality, the more it is either ordained by God or the peoples rule in lying words and descriptions. Atrocious lies are the handmaiden of oppression and the devil,  just as love, truth and simplicity are those of the gentle and the godly.

A dear friend of mine Vinod Khurana, who recently retired as one of the senior most bureaucrats of India, when he read this post was inspired enough to compose a poem in the honor of the President



A Tribute to Jose Mujica in Verse
by Vinod Khurana  
as rendered by Ashok Malhotra
 

A Photo of a window of the author's home

When breath is taken away
And the rest returns

From whence it came
Becoming one with the stars and ferns


Into that womb of nature we go
Where no I and me remain
Dispersed wide and thin 

All essence becomes one

May our knowledge increase
Of nature and its secrets
While there is life and breath
And before life  comes to a rest


When comes physical end
When life passes over the bend

Nature shall take life in its lap
To become its part, firm in its grasp


A voice from shores far away cries alone
Prophets are rarely recognized at home
Mahatmas lived with simplicity and shined
Now living in our hearts and mind
You are Nature's beloved, President Mujica

In love and truth and free from greed
Such a one, as is rare to find
Hail thee all corners, where there is life
Also there where one may ultimately lie.


Best wishes to President Jose Mujica from all corners of the globe and to all citizens of his wonderful country.

Uruguay image from wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maldonado_desde_la_Barra.jpg


Note; Some stats on Uruguay here: http://data.worldbank.org/country/uruguay




Appendix

Note for Uruguay; Ten Points
-----------------------------------------------------------------

Since it is more or less certain that this note shall be found by some in Uruguay government through Google searches, this additional appendix is included for this enlightened country of the world with a view towards a continued good future for this country. Following appear to be promising areas that the administration and policy makers of the country may reflect on as coming from a disinterested yet educated international observer. These thoughts emerged as a result of the research this author did on Uruguay for writing this article:



  1. There appears to be a need to expand and modernize the Airport at Montevideo and improve its direct connectivity to New York to enhance tourism.
  2. There appears to be a need to expand rail connectivity within the country.
  3. The legal system needs a review so as to treat some offences with a fine and community service instead of prison terms to reduce presently high prison population. A one time amnesty may also be considered for less serious offenders or those who have served half their terms. Please read http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2012/02/prisoners-choice.html
  4. On the environmental front there is a need to expand forests perhaps choosing food producing trees including more olive trees.
  5. Permit connecting individual solar PV systems to the electricity supply grid with a possibility of credit for feeding the grid.
  6. On the education front increasing the content of English language for enhanced international communications as well as secular ethical/moral science/humanism content of education in schools and universities appears desirable
  7. On the agricultural front there appears to be a need to expand vineyards and invite Italian quality wine makers to establish collaborations for units in Uruguay.
  8. On nutrition front an ideal model of diet is the Ikaria model and it may be studied in more detail along with promotion of same to minimize dependence on meat and beef diet. A greater emphasis on cheese and other diary products may be be given as compared to meat production.
  9. There is a need to expand quality cannabis plantations perhaps even obtaining original stock from Himalayan regions and simultaneously to develop government certification for quality packaging for domestic consumption as well as future exports, since it is the only country in the world where this ancient herb is legalized.
  10. Establishment/encouragement  of a Uruguay Philharmonic orchestra and opera house to strengthen the finest of European cultural roots.

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14 comments:

Matt J said...

I'm so happy I read this. I was completely unaware. Likely why you seldomly hear of anyone here in the United States from Uruguay..as a resident. I say that because I personally have never experienced anyone living in my circle of life from this country. I may have to consider a trip one day... :) Thank you for bringing this to light.

ashok said...

Thanks Matt. I too had heard very little of this country but learned of some of the countries of South America from story books in my school days. One Biggles was at times off to South America for his flying adventures. I wrote about him because there are so few like him in the world today, especially in important political positions, and it appears to be so useful for the world if a few more do likewise, at least partially if not all the way. Delighted to have you visit the blog Matt. Please do so again from time to time. Your own have inspired one of the very popular blog posts of mine - Spirituality and Evil.

ashok said...

A Blog writer unlike another who writes for a magazine or newspaper does not have the help of other editors to check his article. He has to do it all on his own. Therefore after one is written it has to be edited a few times. I wrote this yesterday and edited it a few times over the last 24 hours. If someone visited this during that period more than once please do not be surprised at small changes that may have taken place.

ashok said...

Matt, I clicked on your name here and it took me to your google plus page where I could not find a link to your mind of matter blog. I shall look for it in an older post though to find it again. Cheers.

matterami said...

Www.mindofmatter.com

ashok said...

Thanks Matt.

Vinod Khurana said...

Dear Ashok ji,
A wonderful piece and an eye opener. Thank you very much for sharing such useful information.
With Regards/Vinod Khurana

When breath is taken away
And the rest goes back
From where it came
Becoming one with it anyway

Into that womb of nature I shall go
Where no I and me remain
Dispersed wide and thin into which
All essence becomes one and the same

Let me become familiar and knowledgeable
With nature and its various secrets
While I still live and breathe
And before I rest there eternally

When comes the physical end
And life passes over and out
Nature shall take the lifeless in its lap
To become its integral part, however insignificant

Mahatma lived naturally and shined
Now living in our heart and mind
You are Nature's advocate, Mr. President
Such a one , as is very rare to find
In all the corners where there is life
And there also where one may ultimately lie!



ashok said...

What a wonderful poem for such a wonderful person of our planet Vinod Ji. May I include it within the blog post as a tribute to him while giving you credit for it, because everyone does not read the comments?

Thanks for this.

ashok said...

If I included the poem within the post I shall also mention that you are a dear friend, and one of senior most bureaucrat of India retired recently, the equivalent of the head of the IRS as in USA ( because readership is international and they would understand that term better than the Indian nomenclature)

Vinod Khurana said...

Dear Ashok ji,
It is a great honor indeed. By way of clarification,I retired as one of the senior most IRS officers, but I did not become the Chairman.
Thanks and with Regards/ Vinod

ashok said...

Right on Vinod. Thanks.

ashok said...

Done Vinod with some variations from my side :) Thanks again. it has made the article more beautiful and more spiritual/

Sudhir Goyal said...

AShok, thanks for sharing such beautiful information.

ashok said...

Thanks you for saying that Sudhir. Do you remember Mr. Menon our English teacher at school? He used to make us write essays and it was difficult then but with constant practice it has become easier now and made it possible to share such promising information with a wider audience to show that much goodness is possible to in our world.