CP English 10 –B2
14 May 2015
Jonesing for Control Following the orders given over the radio, children were forced to consume the valium and cyanide laced Fla-Vor-Aid by their parents (“Moore”). Petrifying screams from the mouths of the children could be heard from several miles away. Adults had then administered the concoction to themselves while watching their families perish (“PBS, The People Temple in California”). Mass distress and much confusion depicts the final moments of those living at Jonestown. During this time a single gunshot was fired and everything fell silent. An estimated total of 918 men, women, and children died in Guyana the day of November 18th, 1978 (“PBS, November”). Jonestown, they say, offers important lessons, such as the power of social influences and the consequences of a leader using such influences to destructively manipulate others' behavior (“Dittmann”).
Born to James Thurman Jones and Lynetta Putnam, James Warren “Jim” Jones wasn’t your average child. His family lived off of disability payments from his father’s time spent in the Great War (“PBS, Jim Jones”). Neither of his parents were very involved in his life leaving him a lot of down time to do as he pleased. His acquaintances claimed that he was drawn to studying and experiencing different religions (“Welcome”). Jones became so heavily obsessed with religion and death he held mock funerals for small animals such as cats and rabbits. It was soon suspected that he even killed some of the animals just to practice holding a service (“Welcome”). Having such interest preaching at his mock services led Jones to the idea that he would be able to preach his beliefs among others. To turn this idea into an achievable reality, Jones became a pastor at a local Methodist church. Though this didn’t last long for the reason of not being allowed to integrate the congregation. The common view for segregation made Jones furious since he saw himself socialist and a firm believer when it came to civil rights (“Robinson”) this view of himself was very ironic since his father was an active member of Ku Klux Klan (“Welcome”) but to continue voicing his opinion, Jones soon developed his own church naming it The Peoples Temple (“PBS, Jim Jones”).
To gain members for this church, Jones often demonstrated his “powers” of healing common illnesses. These staged rituals not only brought in devoted members but also their money (“PBS, Jim Jones”). This meant his congregation would soon have a church of their own in Indiana (“Welcome”). Once again this setting didn’t last very long. Since Jones’ desegregation actions were ahead of their time, people who were threatened by this idea of equality lashed out to him and his family (“PBS, Jim Jones”). To escape the antagonizing of the community, Jones fled away with his family to Brazil later returning to America for settlement in California. Redwood Valley was the start of Jones’ hunger for control. He forced himself sexually on his members, but it didn’t stop there. Soon the abuses became public. Members who became disobedient to Jones’ orders were sentenced to beatings and confessions amongst their peers. This sequence of events became too much for some of the temples most trusted members, so they separated from the church. Publication of these allegations forced Jones to make no other choice than to move his congregation once more. This virtually overnight disappearance of Jones and the temple became the start of Jonestown in Guyana (“PBS, The Peoples Temple in California”). Jones had still been able to keep control over his members by striping them
Schmedeke 4 away from their American environment (“PBS, The Peoples Temple in Guyana”). This brought everyone a sense of unfamiliarity and vulnerability making them more dependent on Jones for guidance.
Jones carried a great interest in famous leaders such as George Baker, Hitler, and Stalin because of