Mujica’s speech at Rio +20

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“Today, man does not govern the forces he has unleashed, but rather, it is these forces that govern man; and life. Because we do not come into this planet simply to develop, just like that, indiscriminately. We come into this planet to be happy. Because life is short and it slips away from us. And no material belonging is worth as much as life, and this is fundamental.But if life is going to slip through my fingers, working and over-working in order to be able to consume more, and the consumer society is the engine-because ultimately, if consumption is paralyzed, the economy stops, and if you stop economy, the ghost of stagnation appears for each one of us, but it is this hyper-consumption that is harming the planet. And this hyper-consumption needs to be generated, making things that have a short useful life, in order to sell a lot. Thus, a light bulb cannot last longer than 1000 hours. But there are light bulbs that last 100,000 hours! But these cannot be manufactured, because the problem is the market, because we have to work and we have to sustain a civilization of “use and discard”, and so, we are trapped in a vicious cycle. These are problems of a political nature, which are showing us that it’s time to start fighting for a different culture.

I’m not talking about returning to the days of the caveman, or erecting a “monument to backwardness.” But we cannot continue like this, indefinitely, being ruled by the market, on the contrary, we have to rule over the market.

This is why I say, in my humble way of thinking, that the problem we are facing is political. The old thinkers. Epicurus, Seneca and even the Aymara put it this way, a poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more.” This is a cultural issue.

My fellow workers fought hard for the 8 hour workday. And now they are making that 6 hours. But the person who works 6 hours, gets two jobs, therefore, he works longer than before. But why? Because he needs to make monthly payments for: the motorcycle, the car, more and more payments, and when he’s done with that, he realizes he is a rheumatic old man, like me, and his life is already over.

And one asks this question: is this the fate of human life? These things I say are very basic: development cannot go against happiness. It has to work in favor of human happiness, of love on Earth, human relationships, caring for children, having friends, having our basic needs covered. Precisely because this is the most precious treasure we have; happiness. When we fight for the environment, we must remember that the essential element of the environment is called human happiness.”

Transcript from The Wander Life

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