One of the stars of our lifetime


Oscar Arias Sánchez
Inter Action Council, Tianjin, China.

13 de mayo de 2012

En mi libro “Con Velas, Timón y Brújula” dije que Helmut Schmidt, excanciller de Alemania, es el más grande estadista que he conocido. Hoy, en Tianjin, China, en la reunión del Inter Action Council, tuve el honor de rendirle un homenaje en representación de todos mis colegas exjefes de estado. Quiero compartir con ustedes las palabras que pronuncié:

In “Men and Powers” Helmut Schmidt wrote: “According to a widespread public illusion, an ideal statesman is someone who can develop a stirring vision of the future; but at the same time he is held responsible for turning this vision into reality.” He went on to say that while we expect too much from our leaders, in 1962, it appeared that someone had emerged who fulfilled all of these unrealistic hopes and dreams. For him, that man was the young U.S. President, John F. Kennedy. For me, that man is Helmut Schmidt.

He is the most political of intellectuals, and the most intellectual of politicians. Throughout his long and extraordinary career, he has united politics and thought, action and reflection. In the many years during which I have known him, admired his achievements, and studied his work, the breadth of his knowledge has never ceased to amaze me – from economics to philosophy, from history to literature. Most important of all, however, is the way in which he exercises leadership, and his vision of the world. As I wrote in a book I edited recently in Costa Rica, he is simply the greatest statesman I have ever known.

I am embarrassed to admit that I read the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius only after Helmut told me that it was from that volume that he learned philosophy. Thanks to his guidance, I came across this sage advice: “Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” Without any doubt, one of the stars of our lifetime, whose light of wisdom and leadership has illuminated the path of millions, is with us here today. Thank you, Helmut – for being a teacher, a mentor, and a source of inspiration, to many leaders all over the world, as well as to this humble servant from Latin America. Thank you, and Godspeed.