Jeffrey Epstein was the epitome of what our society tells us success looks like. Money, power, sex. Private jets, enormous homes, expensive cars. He had all the things we see on television, on our social media feeds, in the songs and movies we consume every day.
Let’s avoid all the swirling discussion about what happened to him and notice one of the most important lessons about Jeffrey Epstein’s utterly depraved life, now at an end.
That lesson, simply, is that our culture glorifies the principles that Jeffrey Epstein lived by.
We don’t like to admit this, because it’s horrific. It makes us feel bad.
But it’s true.
Because, ask yourself: who does our culture glorify?
Is it the student working two jobs to pay for college and create a future their parents never had?
Is it the single parents who work endless hours to provide for their children?
Is it the person who spends their waking hours caring for an elderly parent that they know won’t get any better?
Is it the soldier who willingly gives his or her life for us somewhere abroad?
Is it the homeless veteran who fought for us and now has been left behind?
What about the teachers who never receive any appreciation but, instead, pages and pages of bureacratic diktat to tell them how to do their job?
Or the pastors and priests that spend long nights at hospitals and homes caring for their flocks?
What about the police officers who spend Christmas away from their young children so that we can spend it safely with ours?
Or the firefighters and first responders who rush in to harm’s way to save people with no concern for their own lives?
To say nothing of the millions upon millions of “ordinary” people who work “ordinary” jobs and drive “ordinary” cars and live in “ordinary” homes but treat others with dignity and respect…
No, our culture doesn’t care about any of these people. Not really.
The instagrammers, the social media stars, the glorified celebrities, the wealthy big-city dinner attendees, the people who we are always told are the ones who live the most amazing, interesting, and “important” lives, they are the ones who serve as the models for us, in modern American society.
Perhaps few of them are anything like Jeffrey Epstein. He is, after all, an extreme case.
But his principles? To get as much as possible for oneself, to seek pleasure at all costs, to use others for one’s own ends?
These, sadly, are the principles that underlie so much of what we see in our society today.
F.A. Hayek, writing after the Second World War, warned that totalitarianism was but an extreme form of certain policies that he saw captivating the academics of Britain at the time.
To apply Hayek’s analogy to this, I would suggest to you that Jeffrey Epstein is but an extreme version of the very things we see all around us. He epitomized what success looks like for so many people – until, that is, he didn’t.
Because he ended up completely alone, dead, in a jail cell. Whatever you think happened, he met a miserable end.
And is not misery the logical end of all the pleasures our modern culture throws at us every single day?
Roll back the clock ten years, show someone Jeffrey Epstein’s wealthy and fabulous life, and ask most people whether they would rather be him or the cashier at the local grocer who scrapes by but has a family that loves and supports them, volunteers at their local church, and is beloved by their community. You’d be hard pressed to find many who would choose the simpler path.
It’s not as Insta-worthy, not as exciting.
But perhaps, if our culture is to turn away from evil and back to things that matter, such as faith, family, and basic decency, we have to acknowledge that we’ve got it all backwards.
Even if we try to live lives that embody different principles, we must understand that most of the world is not with us. Most people want different things – they want the things Jeffrey Epstein had.
But was he ever really happy? Was his life in any way fulfilling?
Was it worth it?
You can answer that for yourself.