World’s poorest president

T ODAY I became aware of the world’s poorest president. He lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away 90% of his salary. His name is Jose Mujica. He’s the president of Uruguay.

The BBC reported the story:

Laundry is strung outside the house. The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside.

This is the residence of the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders.

President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife’s farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo.

The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers.

This austere lifestyle – and the fact that Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 (R105,000), to charity – has led him to be labelled the poorest president in the world.

Interesting, don’t you think? I must say I was intrigued. He says that he has lived that way most of his life.

His ideology seems noble among today’s headlines of corruption in the ranks of world leaders.

He says that while he may seem like an eccentric old man, it’s his own “free choice”.

He spoke about a few things – consumerism, sustainability of the planet… all of which you may or may not agree with.

But there was one particular thing that didn’t sit right with me. One little thing. It was a throw-away comment, but it’s something we all do, all the time.

“This is a matter of freedom,” he is quoted as saying. “If you don’t have many possessions then you don’t need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself.”

And therein lies the rub. You have more time for yourself.

Is it wrong? I guess not. Most of us agree we all need a bit of downtime. It’s the “more” that bothers me.

You might disown me. Call me pedantic, nit-picky, or whatever… but the issue here is one of selflessness.

Somewhere out of the ether yesterday, I was reminded of Jesus’ words:

“Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest.”

Granted, it’s a tall order trying to live like Jesus did.

But here’s the thought… how selfless are we with our time? Really – how much time do we give to others?

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