The Last of the Mujicans
The honest and consistent politician isn’t a unicorn — I think I just saw one over there…
My special guest
An undeterminable number of days ago, I had a conversation with my wife. Out of nowhere, she asked me:
“If you could invite any one person to dine with you, who would you invite?”
I thought about the query for a short time and responded:
“The ex-president of Uruguay, José “Pepe” Mujica.”
“Oh? And why him?”
“Well, in this world where all politicians appear to serve only themselves instead of the people, I feel that he could be one of the only honest and upright politicians remaining.”
“Ok, I’ll set the table for two and a unicorn. By the way, Mike, what do unicorns eat anyways?” she probably thought.
The Last Hero
The filmmaker Emir Kusturica is working on a documentary about the life of the expresident of Uruguay called “The Last Hero” (El último héroe). But, why is the old ex-president of a country that is really, really tiny so….famous?
Unfortunately, for many people, Mujica is most famous for his controversial legalization of marijuana. But what really got my attention, more than the initiative, and even more than the reasons for enacting it, was the way in which he presented it:
This is an experiment. And just like any experiment, there are naturally risks involved and we have to have the intelligence to know that if this gets too big and becomes out-of-control, we can take a step back. We don’t have to become fanatical.” (Source: La Nación, translation mine)
When was the last time a politician, in any country, spoke so candidly and said quite openly that something was unsure, and it was important to try it out and not be afraid to make mistakes?
Can you say “never”?
The “Alternative Facts” New World
One of the first linguistic “gifts” that the Trump administration gave us was the now-famous “alternative facts” costume with which we can now dress up our lies and parade them around as if it were Halloween.
In case you have been living under a rock somewhere, (as if Uruguay wasn’t “living under a rock somewhere”) an advisor to the now-President Trump, Kellyanne Conway, was defending the Press Secretary, who was accused of inaccuracies when explaining the attendance of the president’s inauguration, and made it clear that the Press Secretary was not lying, but rather, offering alternative facts.
Really, now….what is the alternative to a fact?
And what does Mujica have to say about facts and lies?
“I want to know the truth, but I don’t believe a damn in justice.” (Source: Emol.com, translation mine)
Bigger is better, but…we’re talking about egos here
The simple life philosophy that the “world’s poorest president” embraces draws a stark contrast with the new, inflated, larger-than-life ego at the helm of the United States. Let’s take a look at the declarations of each one and then you, dear reader, can try to guess who said which:
“I might be mistaken, because I often am, but I call it as I see it. (Source: Publimetro, translation mine)
“Show me someone without an ego, and I’ll show you a loser…” (Source: Twitter)Gosh, it certainly is a real head-scratcher, isn’t it?
Two old guys cut from different cloth
While one old feller takes control of a nation with a crazy, frenetic energy, desperate to put his personal name and style in the history books, spearheading a new controversy every day, the other has finished his term. Despite his declarations of not wanting to run for reelection, he continues to serve his country as a Senator. He is content with what he has and not what he is lacks; he tends to his garden and trucks around his tiny nation in an old (1987) Volkswagen Beetle.
So, in this acrid environment, full of controversy, scandal and uncertainty, it is necessary, I think, to pause, take a step back and see things — life included — from a different angle.
The world is not a place always filled with flowers and optimism, but neither is it perpetually the inverse. And politicians, like all of us, are only human. We don’t — shouldn’t — depend on them to “save the world” because it is tasked to each of us to “save our world”, wherever it is and however small it may be.
Perhaps there is no better way to part ways than with this gem of a quote from the Last of the Mujicans:
“Despite it all, I believe that the human being that is able not only to improve the world, but also to improve himself. Perhaps I’m mistaken, but let me die with utopias” (Source: Emol, translation mine)
Now go out and make the world a better place, although only one drop, because life won’t do it alone.