SPEAKING of the importance of humility in high office, President Jose Mujica of Uruguay said: “As soon as politicians start climbing the political ladder, they begin acting like kings.” I don’t have that statement in its original Spanish, so that must be a mistranslation. He probably meant to say that, as soon as politicians get to the top of the political ladder, they start acting like kings because, while climbing the electoral ladder, they are as humble as pie. Peecha pie, as we say.
To that I, more wisely, add from recent experience: “And they start thinking that they are handsome and smarter than anyone else, however much their faces belie it and however royally they screw up—and all because the media let them get away with it.”
But getting elected does not make you smart and handsome, not even by a landslide—and not by a long shot. The elected stay as ugly and ignorant as before they were elected.
Nothing can cure ignorance, but Vicky Belo can help with the other problem. I have already related how she worked on an alligator to make it look like a dachshund for the Middle Eastern peace games.
Being elected as president does not elevate him above the people who elected him, let alone, I might add, those who wisely did not vote for him. “Republics came to the world to make sure no one is held in higher regard than anyone else,” Mujica said. The pomp of high office, like red carpets and people standing behind you and leaning to whisper nothing in your ears, is just baduy, although the media lap it up.
On progress, Mujica said the obvious: “Business just wants more profit. It is up to [the] government to take some of that profit and give it to workers, so [that] they have more money to buy more of the stuff that business sells.” That makes business richer. And, yet, in this inferior country, there are those who argue—mostly the destitute in foreign chambers of commerce—for reducing the minimum wage or doing away with it altogether.
The Uruguayan president noted that, while the years add wisdom, they seem to make the old intolerant and, therefore, foolish. Yet, that is contradicted by his own liberal example. He found that it is the young who are closed-minded and that age opens up the mind.
If you still find intolerant old men, it is because of self-conceit, of thinking only of their oldness as the worst affliction when there is so much else to regret, like the idiocy of the young and the peril that youthful enthusiasm puts the world in.
Mujica also said: “What’s sad is that an 80-year-old grandpa has to be the open-minded one. Old people aren’t old because of their age, but because of what’s in their heads.”
About gay marriage, I translate him more accurately as saying: “Madre de Dios, there have been maricones for longer than history: think Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great.” (Caesar was not a homo, but he would have sex with men if that would advance his political career. He wanted to be dictator with every ounce of his being, including his ass.)
Mujica continues: “Homosexuality is a fact. It is a reality; live with it. So is the need for divorce. People make bad choices; give them a second chance. Accept gays as what they are: very ordinary people”—even if they try a lot to call attention to themselves, as if they have more talent than straight people just by being gay.
He says, however, they are “not at all special.”
He reiterates: “Grant divorce. Anything else is torture.” I think he means legal separation is torture. Well, I don’t know. Sometimes we must thank God for small mercies. At least, you no longer see your spouse sleeping off all the sleep he (or she) had the day before and the day before that.
Turning pensive, Mujica said: “Life slips by; the way to prolong a life is for others to continue your work.”
We keep looking to the young when we should look among the old who have led clean lives for the kind of president that Mujica has become for the Uruguayan people and the world.