"To the extent the actions in Jonestown were viewed as a mass suicide, it is one of the largest such mass suicides in history, and the greatest single loss of American civilian life in a non-natural disaster until the events of September 11, 2001. One of those who died at the nearby airstrip was Leo Ryan, who became the only Congressman murdered in the line of duty in the history of the United States."
This is a quote from Wikipedia, you can find out a little bit more about Jim Jones by searching Wikipedia or the Internet.
It was November 18, 1978, I was in the 11th grade, living and Anaheim, California when I heard the news about a man and a group of followers that I would think about often throughout the rest of my life. I didn't know Jim Jones or any of the followers but their impact will leave a lasting impression on me for the rest of my life.
As a teenager, during a critical part of my life. I was always trying to understand things that the government, religious and world leaders were doing. Often very confused. I was confused about the life of Christ and couldn't quite get a grip on evolution and creation. I could always count on getting one thing from every person I had ever met, and that was an opinion, with very little factual information to back it up.
It was hard for me to imagine, that anyone would follow another mortal being the distances that Peoples Temple's followers had followed Jim Jones. I guess I could understand this in a supreme being or supreme race extraterrestrial beings, with magical powers and supreme knowledge of the universe. But a regular person, I don't think so.
I rarely watched the news on television and gathered most of my information from teachers and other students who I went to school with. There was an English teacher whom I was fond of and she let the class express how they felt, about what had happened and only then did I realize, this had actually happened. It was real.
I couldn't believe that people were this stupid. How could anyone commit suicide like this? I could understand something like this happening 500 or maybe a thousand years ago but in 1978, it's not possible. I started to get a better understanding as I learned more about Jim Jones and The Peoples Temple based in San Francisco, California. I could understand, that religion offers people hope and we all need a little bit, if not a lot of hope. Hope helps us get through our humdrum and boring everyday lives.
These people were hoping for a better life and when there was no more hope in sight and these people would be going back to live in America, with nothing (most of the people had given everything they owned to The Peoples Temple) I could understand this a little bit better but not clearly enough. When people have no hope or they feel like they're at the bottom of the valley, looking up at an impossible hill to climb, I could see where suicide becomes a viable option.
Looking at 9/11, most of the people that died, had hope. What happened in Jonestown Guyana was a lot different, most of these people did not have hope but all had a reason to live, but chose death. Was this actually their choice or were they so caught up in someone else's dream that they couldn't see reality anymore. There are still fanatical leaders today, causing pain and grief all over the world. Jim Jones was not the first and he won't be the last, make sure you're not one of the victims if this ever happens again.
Over 900 people died that day and I hope we never have to see something like this ever again.
Sir Winston Churchill - "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
Greg Vanden Berge is a published author, internet marketing expert, motivational inspiration to millions of people all over the world and is sharing some of his wisdom with experts in the fields of writing,marketing, and personal development. Check out one of his recommended books, You Can Have It All
Here's a question I would like you to think about, winning or losing with Christianity. Fanatical groups like Jim Jones are not a thing of the past, make sure that, what ever religious organization you are following is not leading you down the wrong path. Use common sense and if that doesn't sound right, it probably isn't