“Jonestown” was the informal name for the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project formed by the Peoples Temple, an American religious organization under the leadership of Jim Jones, in northwestern Guyana. It became internationally notorious when on November 18, 1978, over 900 people died in the remote commune, at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma, and in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city. The name of the settlement became synonymous with the incidents at those locations.
A total of 909 Americans died in Jonestown, all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning, in an event termed “revolutionary suicide” by Jones and some members on an audio tape of the event and in prior discussions. The poisonings in Jonestown followed the murder of five others by Temple members at Port Kaituma, including United States Congressman Leo Ryan.
Ruletta Paul and her on 1 year old baby were the first to drink the Kool-aid and Cyanide Jim Jones was dishing out, other mothers and their children followed and soon every single adult in the community had knocked back a dose.The Jonestown poisoning was the largest such event in modern history and resulted in the largest single loss of American civilian life in a deliberate act until September 11, 2001.
“Die with a degree of dignity. Lay down your life with dignity; don’t lay down with tears and agony.” He also said, “I tell you, I don’t care how many screams you hear, I don’t care how many anguished cries…death is a million times preferable to ten more days of this life.”
So preached ‘Pastor’ Jones and if Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the social media world had been around a couple of decades earlier, who knows what and to whom he might have preached & how many more deaths might have occurred. If say the ‘good pastor’ had an international backer or two, if for example, he had the kind of support that would have granted him access to several tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, Kalashnikov’s, military know-how & combat training what mightn’t he have achieved? Globally speaking? All with the help of devout followers who would gladly have followed him to the point of ‘revolutionary suicide’ and beyond.
One journalist who had access to the film footage of that final day at Jonestown, wrote this,
‘Why is this footage so disturbing? It is disturbing for many reasons. The inevitability of what you are watching. You look at all the people singing and dancing and just getting on with life, and you know that by sundown, all but a small handful will be dead. You look at Jonestown in the sunlight on the last day, and you get a tiny taste of the work that had gone into this little hamlet. You know from everything you have read about Jonestown that even the survivors almost didn’t survive their demons after the event.
But most of all, it is disturbing because there is no video or sound editor who has manipulated your emotions.
What you are watching and what you are seeing is the raw soundtrack of impending waste of huge human potential. You are watching nearly a thousand people who are preparing to bow to the will of a man who is preparing to take them all with him in death.’
“Like most outsiders, we didn’t have any idea what was happening outside closed doors.” -Rebecca Moore, a professor of religious studies at San Diego State University.
Jonestown? Al-Qaeda? ISIS? Really, other than professed religious belief what is the difference? All three have advocated and are advocating ‘revolutionary suicide’. Real people with real lives, families & friends have bought the Kool-aid and drank it. The people left picking up the pieces? The families, the friends and of course the victims.