AFTER TWO days of nursing a line or two in the thermometer, I’m back to my usual self. Well… not quite. Something I watched (but didn’t really finish) today on CNN made me upset the whole day; I was surprised how I even managed to put sanity into the public hearing on our power problems here this morning so I can come to know what were being discussed.
If I start watching something on television, and it’s truly interesting, and then I don’t get to see it to the end, I really get upset. It’s a vicious cycle that happens in my really can-be-considered simple life.
On CNN this lunch time was a special report about Jonestown, an international community in northwestern Guyana formed by the People’s Temple or People’s Temple Agricultural Project, a cult that originated in California led by Jim Jones. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonestown
Jonestown became notorious in the news in 1978, seven years after I was born, because of the murder in the small Port Kaituma airstrip in Guyana of U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan, a NBC reporter and his cameraman, and a woman member of the cult who wanted to defect. After they were killed, on November 18 of the same year, 909 members of the cult committed what Jones called “revolutionary suicide” by cyanide poisoning. It became the “greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster” until, of course, when the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center happened.
I first encountered Jonestown as a question in a popular quiz show I love to watch late at night. If my memory serves me right, it’s “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader.” One of the contestants was asked where Jonestown is and the person replied “Guyana.” The host gave a little historical background on its importance, then that was it. There was no bothering myself to finding out why that many would allow a single person to sway them into believing that “suicide” was the only way they can live peaceful lives.
This morning was an added highlight to what has already been revealed to me ages ago. That a person can hold your life and dictate you on what to do with it. Even if it’s to your detriment, you believe it’s good and you do it.
The Jonestown people, who were originally residents of the U.S., believed Jones was a good leader and that his socialist beliefs were the means to peaceful lives. Unbeknownst to them, he was really nothing special. Just some guy who didn’t get what he wanted out of America so he looked for a socialist country where nobody can question and doubt what he wanted to do. At least to me, he appeared to be that way.
I will never understand how he managed to do it, or what did he do to convince 909 people to poison themselves to die. What I understand now is that many lives were lost because of their crooked trust in him.
Sometimes the peacefulness we’re looking for in our lives is not in the government, not in the company we keep, not in the work we do, not in the family where we belong, not in the single person who tells us he can give us peace or make us feel peace — it’s in us. It’s in us to look for what we want peace to be for us.