This man is José Mujica. He’s the president of Uruguay and has been since 2010. I just learned that he donates 87% of his salary to charity. He drives an old school Volkswagon Beetle, which is his only asset. His wife owns the farm they live on. Here’s what he said when asked about it: “I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less”.
When I read that, it really resonated with me. I believe that kind of attitude is the kind of attitude a leader should have. He doesn’t put himself above those who follow him, instead he walks among them. How can you lead someone to happiness and prosperity if you do not truly understand them? And how can you understand someone who you place beneath yourself?
I believe the reasons for most of the world’s major issues are greed and corruption. You can’t drive down the street without seeing it. Gas prices continue to rise while oil companies are sitting on billions of dollars. Major corporations who do everything they can to nickel and dime their consumers. I believe all of this corruption and all of this greed is due in part by a severe lack of humility.
You see, when you lack humility, you start to place yourself above others. You develop a sense of superiority to those around you. This inevitably leads to a lack of compassion. When that happens you lose the ability to relate to others and you begin to focus only on yourself. This is when greed and corruption set in. When you don’t relate to other people, and can’t feel sympathy for their pain and suffering, it’s suddenly easier to hurt them for your own personal gain. You can’t possibly lead a group of people (or a country, for that matter) when you can’t feel what they feel, or rather, when you simply don’t care about what they feel.
And no, I don’t expect our world leaders to donate 90% of their salary so they can make as much as I do. But I do believe it’s important, especially for them, to be humble. They must be the most humble of us all, in fact. This is obviously not the case, but I can’t help but ask myself: “What if all our world leaders were as humble as José Mujica?”
I hope to one day see the answer to that question.