So first I need to say I really need to start being more careful about what I watch on TV. the last 2 nights I've watched documentaries that were just heartbreaking. It started on monday watching the hour with george stroumboulopoulos and his first guest was Stephan Jones, the son of the infamous cult leader responsible for the Jonestown massacre. This guy just squeaked by being a part of the death toll which was about 914. I have a lot of thoughts about the tragedy, but what really struck me was hearing about the survivors. Stephan was about 18 at the time, so now I guess he's 46. The 10 minute interview (which was George's first really good interview in a very long time) really had me in tears. And they talked about the documentary which would air tuesday night on vision... and I watched it at midnight. and then I was up until 4 reading about it online. I've heard it said that 9/11 was the day the world changed (from an American perspective) but I think if you asked anyone who was around at the time, they would say november 18, 1978 was pretty effing huge in that regard too. Jim Jones' soldiers murdered a US congressmen, some journalists from NBC and church 'defectors' before driving back to the commune and making sure that everyone present drank the koolaid (at gunpoint if they refused), shooting Jim Jones (cause he couldn't bring himself to drink) and then drinking themselves. One guy was arrested at the airfield and imprisoned until 2002, but other than that I think they all died.
Right, I said I didn't want to focus on the tragedy... but you know, just to make sure you know what I'm talking about.
Stephan actually said in the doc, that if he'd been on site he believes he would have drank the juice. he had a pretty strong will to live, but he also cared a great deal about the community and his place in it. And even though he knew his dad was crazy... his mom drank it, and he loved her more than anything else. But it was his mom who made sure he left when he did. And now he's married and has three daughters. And I look at these people who survived (some who defected with the congressman's party and survived the shooting, some reporters and family members who had been visiting with the party) and what hits me is that to survive something like that and really manage to be a whole person they needed to hyper evolve by their thought and emotional life in order to heal. They are more well-adjusted than the average person walking around, more in touch with their emotions... and they would need to be, you know?
It's tragic to think of the last moments of those who drank, the way they were manipulated and lied to in order to believe that it was the best option available for them. To think that they watched all the children die... and I believe that after that point there was no way any of them would want to live. But it's absolutely inspiring to think about the moral courage of people who survived and went about to live full lives and become happy individuals. It seems easier for me now to maintain my momentum on my way to fulfilling the life I can. You know?