A Thought About Consumerism or What I Learned from Jose Mujica — The World’s “Poorest” President

If you don’t know who he is you need to.

He’s often referred to as the world’s poorest president or the world’s humblest president. But what he lacks in wealth, he surely makes up for in wisdom.

This man is literally a saint in my book.

I’ve known his story for a while but today I read something that literally hit me like a ton of bricks. The following is from a speech he made at the Rio+20 summit in June of 2012:

“We’ve been talking all afternoon about sustainable development. To get the masses out of poverty.
“But what are we thinking? Do we want the model of development and consumption of the rich countries? I ask you now: what would happen to this planet if Indians would have the same proportion of cars per household than Germans? How much oxygen would we have left?
“Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.”

Doesn’t this strike you? Have you thought of this in quite these terms? I hadn’t.

I live in America, a country that’s literally reached the height of consumer culture and is struggling under the weight of the detritus.

If we worked to raise the rest of the world up to our level of consumption in the name of progress what would the world look like?

We have to move in a different direction.

We have to move away from commerce based on hard goods.

We need to move toward commerce based on education, wisdom, the arts.

We have to get rid of our obsession with shiny metal and plastic stuff and status symbols.

We have to change our core values and move them toward things like connection, art, music, play, health, adventure, exploration, integrity, respect, sustainability, gratitude, humility, awe and wonder…

I don’t know, I guess this is a bit of a rant. I live a relatively minimal life and I don’t sell hard goods or shiny objects. I don’t drive to work and my carbon footprint is probably pretty small even though I live in Los Angeles. But I don’t have more of an action plan at the moment.

Just the thought to share…