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Poslaťod rt1sano10t » 18 Jún 2017 06:25

Lear MatthewsOn the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown (People’s Temple) tragedy in Guyana, South America, and after the exhilarating election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States, I reflect on dimensions of the disaster that have not been given serious attention.The story of the People’s Temple symbolises (a) the fallibility of persons whose path to the ‘American dream’ has been consistently frustrated, partly because of their ethnicity or social class and (b) developing nations’ vulnerability to sundry international influences as they struggle to stymie conditions of poverty.  The choices made by victims of discrimination, prejudice and injustice, real or perceived, vary from complacency to desperate group action. Therein lies the genesis of Jonestown.This unprecedented event on November 18, 1978, in which more than 900 lives were lost, occurred after members of a religious cult settlement in Guyana, drank cyanide-laced Kool-Aid.  Reportedly a significant number of the dead were African Americans, and about a third of them children.Led by a controversial religious character named Jim Jones, it is believed that some of the members were shot as they attempted to escape. The massacre took place on the day after California representative Leo Ryan, who was also killed, visited the settlement on a fact-finding mission.Lest we forget, that event set off an international fervor, eliciting conversations about cults, communalism, the role of religion and politics in violence, terrorism and racism, all issues that have global currency.There have been lingering questions about the surreptitious nature of the Jonestown project, and benefits incurred by officials from Guyana and the United States.  Unfortunately, the tragedy was for many North Americans their “introduction” to the nation of Guyana and the erroneous belief that the majority of those directly involved were native Guyanese.A New York Times article entitled: Beyond Kool Aid: Looking at Jonestown and Its Ideals,NFL Jerseys Cheap, reported on a play about the massacre and the events that led to it. While the play explored the groups’ utopian existence and recent MSNBC and CNN presentations chronicled the horrific experiences of survivors, this article examines the nature of a community development project gone awry and the psycho-social impact on marginalized people.The actions of a megalomaniac, group dependency and experimentation in nation building characterized the Jonestown experience.  It was the brainchild of an idealistic foreigner, who was initially supported by officials in the United States,NBA Store, and encouraged by the ideals of postcolonial nation building.Determined to implement its hinterland expansion programme, and to overcome resistance to resettlement, the government of Guyana offered resources and encouragement for hinterland development, including in its policy the invitation to foreigners to settle in the interior.Given that policy, a group of Americans established residence in the interior in 1974. Virtually unknown to most Guyanese,Cheap Sports Jerseys, Jonestown became the largest and most advanced (immigrant) community in Guyana. This surrealistic community was given the government’s blessing and sponsorship as a prototype settlement, exemplifying the sort of collective activity instrumental in the transition to ‘cooperative socialism.’In retrospect, it was doomed to failure.  At a time when Guyana was experiencing shortages of basic commodities, Jonestown residents enjoyed special privileges, and had access to resources restricted from distribution within that society.Jones misled followers of his People’s Temple Agricultural Project by promising to take care of the members’ basic needs, including healthcare and safety.  Jonestown was an experiment in human organisation, involving a migrating people searching for a better life and enticed by officials of a state struggling to conquer the problems of underdevelopment.Many members of the Jonestown community believed that they could create a community of equality, free from the problems encountered at home.  Although this north-south migration deviated from contemporary immigration patterns, like immigrants to North America today, participants were after an elusive “dream”.It is interesting to note that at that time,Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping, unrelated to Jonestown, a small number of African American political activists sought refuge in Guyana.Religion, used as a lure to join the People’s Temple was a device for preliminary indoctrination, conversion and control, which were sustained by harsh discipline reminiscent of the slave plantation centuries earlier.  Not only were members encouraged to develop other worldly expectations, but to expect a utopia—a place free from the prejudices and other social ills experienced in the United States.Jonestown was a cult, a community of obedience and compulsion in which members were coerced and constrained, with Jim Jones and his white lieutenants exercising the controlling authority.  Held against their will, many of the residents were likely suffering from depression,Dwight Howard Hawks Jersey, anxiety disorders and other serious mental heath maladies.The People’s Temple debacle emerged from three divergent motivations – the Jonestown residents’ desire to create a better world,Cheap Jerseys From China, the government’s plan to develop the interior, and Jim Jones’ determination to establish a personal power base when he left the United States.What started out as a utopian experiment in community building, ended up an improbable venture, embarrassing to an unsuspecting Guyanese government, and a deadly alternative for hundreds of disenchanted African-Americans and others who are often blamed for their own victimization.Thirty years later, with an Obama presidency, people of a similar hue as those who sought an alternative lifestyle (in Jonestown) to their disenfranchisement and struggles in the United States, may be more hopeful about the future.This, in light of the economic crisis, should influence decisions about personal choice and planned change, which hopefully, will prevent similar tragedies in the name of seeking salvation and nation building.
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