Category Archives: Humility

CONTROL: Inspired By Tom Ford

Over the years, as early as when I could clearly understand the language of humans; I have been rather fascinated by the notion of control. That urge to want to direct the path/course of movement or progression of a thing or person or whatever the case maybe. You can either be on the receiving end of the brunt of control or on the exerting end. There are billions of people who fervently support the idea of control; some have even gone to make huge thriving careers from teaching people how to be in control. As much as I would like to subscribe to the idea that there are people who are in control of everything, and some who go the extra mile to forcefully exert this control on people and things ( hence the term “control freak”), I have to know: are those people really in control?

Every year a ton of people are admitted into business schools with the aim of mastering CONTROL. Firstly, in business and then in other facets of life. Some of them emerge with success others maybe not so much, but really who can truly say that they are in control of everything around them? The human body for one has a natural process which resumes work at birth and is retired at death. We age regardless of how much money we own and put towards fads that pummel us with vain hope of being young forever. But the really wise ones know that this is absolutely ridiculous. It has always been my personal belief that the Plastic Surgery Industry will completely collapse if all the “control freaks” suddenly all died. Think about it, which type of woman is more likely to want to go under the knife to pull together the loose skin around her abdominal area? I will tell you who she isn’t. She isn’t the confident woman who understanding the biology of child bearing and knows that the expansion of the abdominal is a natural occurring incident in child bearing which cannot be stopped. It is the overly controlling woman who wants to cajole her body into looking like it has never been through the joyful ordeal of child bearing.

Some might argue that such a woman is driven mostly by Low Self-esteem. As tempting as that suggestion might be, I think not completely. I think being over controlling breeds Low Self-esteem when the individual in question is met with the harsh reality that some things are just out of their scope of control.

Humans are born with varying degrees of control, which explains why even the meekest of individuals can at least direct where the steps taken by the feet leads him to. If there is anything to be learned from the lives of wealth and successful people who have gained for themselves, for the most part, the luxuries of life which everyone clamors for is that control isn’t really the purpose of life. I watched an interview of Tom Ford the designer where he talked about the making of his movie “The Single Man”. He had just left Gucci when he was struck by this feeling of emptiness. He began to think about his life, where he had been and where he was headed and then it dawned on him that he was having a mid-life crisis. I believe he defined mid-life crisis as “placing a ladder on a wall, climbing it to the top only to get to the peak and realize that you had the ladder on the wrong wall the whole time” or something like that. Tom Ford had been in “control” of everything as he said, raising from the bottom to becoming the Creative Director at Gucci one of the biggest brands in the fashion business. But was it enough? Upon leaving the job, he was quick to realize how fleeting it all was. He realized that even though he had manage to control and steer his life and career in the path it went, he could not shake the way he was feeling. It’s like youth. Youth is beautiful, it is sexy it is hypnotizing, it is strong, but ultimately it is fleeting. And as much as we try to control its tenor, it eventually fades and withers-off.

We as a people are not in control of everything as most have deluded themselves into thinking. We are in control of few things, but for the most part we are left to chance as a being. For example, you choose to eat a loaf of bread (In our control), and then our digestive system takes over and begins to extract what it needs from the bread and tossing the unwanted ones out (Out of our control). We cannot control what the digestive system picks up or what it throws away. All we want to achieve is the feeling of being fed and how this is done internally shouldn’t really bother us.

I think that as an individual, the ultimate purpose is to apply the utmost wisdom and care in making the decisions in our control and hoping optimistically that the rest will go as we have occasioned in our minds. It is the reason why the religious pray.

Towards the end of the Interview, Tom Ford continued to emphasize a certain point. “Nothing, nothing lasts, that the beauty of it all” was what he said and I could not agree with him more. If we can be patient enough to let ourselves comprehend the point that Nothing Lasts, then we can see how pointless it is to try and control everything.

LIFE

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Que Sera Sera.”

It’s Not A Job

Towards the close of business today, a couple of my colleagues at work somehow all found themselves discussing various issues in my department. Our schedules are so busy that it is quite rare for us to converge in one location at a time and discuss for such a long period of time. Initially we were only three, but as the discussions progressed, one by one a few others joined in. I can’t really remember in detail all the issues we talked about, but one particular topic sparked a heated debate among us. We were talking about the roles of women in relationships, specifically the married ones. I should warn you that of the six people having this debate, only one of us was actually married. So forgive me if you do not share my view point on what I am about to share.

 

The heated debated was kicked off by a particular statement made by one of the single ladies. One of the guys asked her what she thought about wives washing the undergarments of their husbands, and she reacted with a quick sense of disgust. I think she said something like; “Eww….How can I do that, Am I his slave?” and “why would a man expect me to do that for him?” Immediately everyone jumped in and had an opinion to voice out. Two other single ladies also supported her saying that; “If he doesn’t wash mine, then I can’t wash he’s”. The married lady among us was particularly annoyed at her answer, and she wasted no time in expressing this. She was of the opinion that things like washing undergarments were just few of the various ways you show your spouse that you care and also a deterrent for keeping your husband from getting distracted by other women outside( funny but somewhat true I guess). She went on to emphasize that it was the “Right” thing for a woman to do, and that any woman who doesn’t help out her husband it a terrible wife. I agree with her (The married one), in the sense that a woman is supposed to do her very best to keep the flame in her marriage/relationship. There is a saying that goes: “A wise woman builds her home, while the foolish woman tears it down with her own hands”. Before I get a barrage of responses slamming me for sexism, I also believe that men also have a role to play in keeping the relationship going as well. But I also disagree with the normative nature of what she prescribed as the way to having a successful marriage. The word “Right” incites the idea that there are set rules for marriages and this I think is wrong. I think it is up to the married couple to decide on what works best for them and grow with it.

 

My main reason for writing this post was that I felt the three young ladies had a wrong impression about some fundamentals of marriage. I am not yet married, but I have spent time with enough married couples to know that whatever you do for your spouse should be from the abundance of your heart and not be seen as a job. The first single lady later went on to say that she would actually wash it, but she would not expect it to be a regular occurrence. The responses the ladies gave implied that such a task, to them was a chore that they could not condone. When you truly love a person, you find that you would, without any eternal push, want to go the extra length to make the other person happy. Even at the cost your own happiness.  Why do you wait for him to ask it of you, if you see his undergarments dirty, I think you should instinctively know to help him  out with it, without being asked to. This is not slavery, it is called love. Some modern women have blown the Women’s Rights movement out of proportion that they see simple things from a chauvinistic point of view, which is not right. When your husband asks you to do his laundry, it doesn’t mean he wants to turn you into his slave, he is just asking you the way your brother or father or mother would ask you for a favor as well. Ladies need to calm down and be more patient, understanding and loving. It’s not a Job, It’s Love.

Political Anomaly: The Peculiar Case of Jose Mujica

 

Daily Prompt: Pat on the Back JOSE MUJICA DOES INFACT DESERVE A PAT ON THE BACK

When you see a picture like this, what sort of sentiments do you get? If you are me then you would have thought that the man in the picture was homeless. But on seeing the car, then I thought a homeless man is less likely to have a car so he must be a poor old retired factory worker on his way to collect his monthly pension benefit or something like that. But I was pleasantly shocked to find out that the man is Jose Mujica, the incumbent president of Uruguay.

I tiled this post “Political Anomaly” because usually this is not the way you would imagine a politician to be like. This is not the appearance you would expect from the mayor of a small town let alone the leader of an entire country. Mr Jose is a pleasant abnormality which everyone can relate to. He is the human equivalent of a White Lion, unique and very hard to find. His selflessness is so exemplary and definitely worthy of emulation. The house you see in the picture on the top left corner is of his wife’s farm house where they both live. He donates $12,000(which happens to be 90% of his monthly salary as president) every month to charity, leaving him with just about $1300. I learned of his story in an article on the BBC website with the title “Jose Mujica: The world’s ‘poorest’ president”, When I read the entire article I was a bit annoyed. My annoyance was essentially focused on the title, why was he labeled as the “poorest” president? It should have read something like this: “Jose Mujica: The President with the biggest heart” or any other sentence more glorifying. Jose Mujica personifies the ideal president that every citizen, regardless of country, craves for.

I come from Nigeria, one of the 16 countries in West Africa, and I can tell you that our leaders have a lot to learn from Jose Mujica. Over here in Africa, Politicians have a very despicable tendency to turn politics into a full time money gushing career. They have this unrivaled propensity to cheat and steal, they amass so much wealth and live such ostentatious lifestyles that essentially make them totally disconnected from the plight of the common man. The majority of countries in Africa are supposed democracies, but the situation at play is totally divergent. In school I was taught that Democracy is “Government For The People, By The People” and also that leadership is about selflessness, charisma and always putting the interest of the people before yours. But now I have graduated to find out that the rules, as prescribed in the textbooks, have been totally annihilated. Every day you open up the newspapers in Nigeria, you cannot help but notice the stories of massive corrupt practices. Today this governor steals $ X billion, tomorrow a senator loots $ XX million etc., there is always a bad story. These days, I almost do not want to read the papers because seeing such stories just disgusts me and makes me want to just shot someone. It’s so enraging, because there are millions of people who live on less than a dollar a day on this continent. Jose Mujica’s story prompted me to look into the economic affairs of some countries for which I could get information for, focusing on things like annual Income of the leader, Per Capita Income (PCI), Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI, % Of Population below the Poverty Line:

Note The Last Column is “% Of Population below the Poverty Line”. After publishing I noticed the column was cut-off a bit.

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capit Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Hamid Karzai Afghanistan $ 6,300.00 $ 1,000.00 530% 36
Jose Edwardo Dos Santos Angola $ 60,000.00 $ 6,000.00 900% 40.5
Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner Argentina $ 51,380.00 $ 17,700.00 190% 30
Heinz Fischner Austria $ 393,443.00 $ 42,400.00 828% 6
Julia Gillard Austria $ 520,837.00 $ 42,400.00 1128% 6
Iiham Aliyev Azerbaijan $ 225,000.00 $ 10,300.00 2084% 11
Elio Di Rupo Belgium $ 162,885.00 $ 38,200.00 326% 15.2
Boyko Borisov Bulgaria $ 26,929.00 $ 13,800.00 95% 21.8
Sebastian Pinera Chile $ 191,126.00 $ 17,400.00 998% 15.1
Xi Jingping China $ 39,720.00 $ 8,500.00 367% 13.4
Juan Manuel Santos Colombia $ 121,284.00 $ 10,400.00 1066% 37.2
Mohamed Morsi Egypt $ 47,485.00 $ 6,600.00 619% 20
Francois Hollande France $ 311,393.00 $ 35,600.00 775% 6.2
Angela Merkel Germany $ 270,600.00 $ 38,400.00 605% 15.5
Pranab Mukherjee India $ 32,316.00 $ 3,700.00 773% 29.8
Susilo Bambang Yuhoyono Indonesia $ 124,171.00 $ 4,700.00 2542% 12.5
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran $ 3,000.00 $ 13,200.00 -77% 18.7
Karim Masimoz Kazakhstan $ 56,953.00 $ 13,200.00 331% 8.2
Ralia Odinga Kenya $ 427,886.00 $ 1,800.00 23671% 50
Pakalitha Mosisili Lesotho $ 57,826.00 $ 2,000.00 2791% 49
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia $ 90,000.00 $ 500.00 17900% 80
Felipe Calderon Mexico $ 315,573.00 $ 14,800.00 2032% 51.3
Armando Guebuza Mozambique $ 55,241.00 $ 1,100.00 4922% 54
Hifikepunye Pohamba Namibia $ 150,588.00 $ 7,500.00 1908% 55.8
Mark Rutte Netherlands $ 177,253.00 $ 42,700.00 315% 10.5
Frederico Franco Paraguay $ 40,000.00 $ 5,500.00 627% 34.7
Jose Socrates Portugal $ 120,884.00 $ 23,700.00 410% 18
Vladimir Putin Russia $ 114,519.00 $ 17,000.00 574% 13.1
Jacob Zuma South Africa $ 313,222.00 $ 11,100.00 2722% 50
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey $ 73,500.00 $ 14,700.00 400% 16.9
David Cameron United Kingdom $ 221,867.00 $ 36,600.00 506% 14
Barack Obama United States $ 400,000.00 $ 49,000.00 716% 15.1
Jose Mujica Uruguay $ 15,600.00 $ 15,300.00 2% 18.6
Michael Sata Zambia $ 82,632.00 $ 1,600.00 5065% 64
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe $ 18,000.00 $ 500.00 3500% 68

Source: Index Mundi. Jose Mujica’s Salary is net of his donation to charity.

(Note: The figure shown on the PCI column is derived from dividing the GDP by the population, and thus might not be reflective for every individual in the country. There is always the possibility that a large portion of the population earns less.)

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capit Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Iran $ 3,000.00 $ 13,200.00 -77% 18.7
Jose Mujica Uruguay $ 15,600.00 $ 15,300.00 2% 18.6
Boyko Borisov Bulgaria $ 26,929.00 $ 13,800.00 95% 21.8

Source: Index Mundi.

From the tables you can see that Jose Mujica is one of the very few Leaders in the world whose salary is close to the national average, as measured by the Per Capita Income (PCI) indicator. And also you can see that a very small portion of the population lives under the poverty live. It is also worthy to note that Mario Monti (Italy) is the only leader with a salary of $0.00. He inculded himself in the wide spread austerity in the country, which is all part of the plan to cut the government’s huge deficit and thus reduce its debt.

Leader Country Annual Income of Leader Per Capita Income (PCI) Leader’s Salary As a % of PCI % Of Population Below The Poverty Line
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Liberia $ 90,000.00 $ 500.00 17900% 80
Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe $ 18,000.00 $ 500.00 3500% 68
Michael Sata Zambia $ 82,632.00 $ 1,600.00 5065% 64
Hifikepunye Pohamba Namibia $ 150,588.00 $ 7,500.00 1908% 55.8
Armando Guebuza Mozambique $ 55,241.00 $ 1,100.00 4922% 54
Felipe Calderon Mexico $ 315,573.00 $ 14,800.00 2032% 51.3
Ralia Odinga Kenya $ 427,886.00 $ 1,800.00 23671% 50
Jacob Zuma South Africa $ 313,222.00 $ 11,100.00 2722% 50
Pakalitha Mosisili Lesotho $ 57,826.00 $ 2,000.00 2791% 49
Jose Edwardo Dos Santos Angola $ 60,000.00 $ 6,000.00 900% 40.5

Source: Index Mundi.

The countries with some of the most devastating figures are the ones in the table above. And it is definitely no surprise that they are mostly in Africa, given the copious amount of corruption that is perpetuated on this continent on a daily basis. The salaries of their leaders are higher than the national average by an enormous margin. The case of Liberia is particularly alarming given that 80% of the population lives under poverty while the salary of the president is a whopping 17,900% higher than the national average.

There is an inspiring quote I happened upon a few months, it goes;

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” –Dalai Lama XIV

So this is to the leaders out there, if you cannot help the citizens with good roads, good schools, good healthcare, etc. The best you can do is not hurt them by pillaging the country’s treasury. Everyone, not just the politicians, can learn from the “Political Anomaly” that is Jose Mujica. In our own little way, let us try to better the lives of others. Let us give without recourse.