Jesse Jackson Jr.
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In order to go on as a country, there needs to be a cultural shift away from materialism.
A Culture of Decadence
Jackson reportedly spent over an astounding $750,000 of his campaign money on lavish goods, including fur coats and luxurious vacations. He plead guilty in federal court to this very offense, and faces more than four years in prison. It is certainly a knee to the stomach for everyone who has supported Jackson in the past. But what does it say about our culture? The majority of citizens in the United States work hard and struggle simply for the diminutive hope that someday they could be living a life of privilege and luxury the way Jackson has. Perhaps we ought to stop glamorizing this way of life. Sure, it's nice for a while, but it clearly hasn't shaped a desirable fate for Jackson himself.
Indeed, the man has let a lot of people down. But he's done more than that. Jackson has become just another example of greed's corrosive effect on our system. He's one of the reasons our youth looks at the government with cynical eyes. But this latest stunt is just a drop in the ocean of decadent greed displayed by the leadership of our United States government. It's an upsetting pattern that by all historical indications seems to mark the decline of a once great empire.
Note that Jackson's fall is all the more disturbing not despite his background, but indeed because of it. Admired by his district, supported for nearly two decades by voters, the man has fallen far. This is a cause for media sensation. We build people up and watch them nosedive in disgrace. It just so turns out that Jackson's downfall is particularly obscene because of the misguided opulence with which he has fueled his rise.
"For years I lived off my campaign," Jackson said in court as he welled up with tears. "I used money that should have been for campaign purposes for personal purposes." While astounding, a crime of this nature is not beyond comprehension, though Jackson's supposed grief over his misgivings are utterly meaningless. Jackson is a demon of our creation. Our society has celebrated greed and put this way of life up on a pedestal.
One could posture and devalue the evils of Jackson's expenditures; after all, it's only campaign money. But imagine what $750,000 could have done for the struggling education system in Chicago. Imagine how many hungry mouths could have been fed with that money. It's difficult not to be overwhelmed with disgust when you think about it. The type of crime Jackson has committed is not only morally repugnant, it's the very antithesis of our country's foundation. His particular type of greed is too common, and it's part of the reason our congress is so damned ineffective.
Months ago, Jackson was mysteriously hospitalized. His doctors later make the claim that he suffers from bipolar disorder. This will most certainly play a role in his legal situation. But the timing of this revelation is suspiciously convenient. Wouldn't it be nice and simple if we could chalk up his disgusting actions to a flaw in his mental processes? Jackson is merely hiding behind the veil of mental illness.
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that our generation is itself suffering from a disorder. And Jackson is a rather dubious symptom of this malady. We simultaneously commend greed in certain circumstances, and hold it in contempt in others. In order to go on as a country, there needs to be a cultural shift away from materialism. But it's something that has to first happen in organic way; that is to say, it can't be organized. The trouble of course being that leaders like Jesse Jackson Jr. take the helm of populist movements, and we are let down when they turn out to be just as greedy and morally bankrupt as the rest, which in turn discredits the entire movement. Jim Morrison once said, "There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first." Maybe this whole thing can serve as a wakeup call for the people to put an end to this the culture of decadence.
David Stockdale, : David Stockdale does not enjoy writing about himself in the third person. But he does what he must to get by. Stockdale grew up in Chicago Ridge, a small suburban town on the southwest side of Chicago. With a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, he is still pretty green behind the ears. Nonetheless, he is determined to find his very own creative place in a world of users, manipulators and "phonies," (as Holden Caufield might put it), and all without... (more...)