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The History of Jonestown Massacre of 1978

In spite of the fact that it has been almost half a century since the appalling events of the Jonestown massacre took place, the details of this case still provide a shocking effect on the modern society. It is hard to believe that an ill-will of a sectarians’ leader could have taken away the lives of a thousand people.

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The Indianapolis Christian sect known as the Peoples Temple was founded in the 1950s by Jim Jones and his numerous followers initially attracted by his anti-racist appeals. The Temple was originally supposed to become a shelter for all the oppressed. However, the illusion of creating a better world was soon destroyed. The sect’s members were daily obliged to perform hard work in the fields. Any demonstration of discontent or disagreement was severely punished. The sectarians were deprived of their documents; all their actions were carefully controlled. The dominating power of Jones’s authority finally led to deplorable consequences. Once the illegal activity of the Temple’s leader was convinced, Jim required his followers to commit mass suicide in a gesture of protest against social injustice. Today, the total number of victims of the horrible massacre makes more than nine hundred people (This Day In History, 2010). The details of the terrible case are still being investigated. (Remains of Nine Victims of 1978 Jonestown Cult Massacre Found in Empty Delaware Funeral Home, 2014).

The idea of almost a thousand people voluntarily taking a portion of poison seems to be indeed bewildering. One can suggest several explanations of the motives lying beneath the mass suicide. First of all, it is to be noted that convincing several hundreds of people to kill themselves requires a great persuasion skill. It proves that Jim Jones was certainly a talented orator, whose inner charisma and openness served to attract different people. The finely put ideas of humanitarianism would easily resonate with social needs. Frank Bell, the lawyer of one of the sectarians, speaks about the perfectly performed brainwashing that affected all the actions of the Temple’s members (Bell, 2013). It, therefore, seems that the leader managed to take an advantage of peoples’ natural desire to believe in a better life’s existence. Another factor to be considered among the ones explaining the mass suicide phenomenon is the unquestioned authoritativeness of the sect’s leader. His controlling power pretended to be completely embracing which made the people permanently experience fear and concern. Even if the members of the settlement doubted some of the sect’s foundations, the constant threat of being punished would make them totally passive. Although some disobedience acts would occasionally take place, they would hardly become the overall trend. Thus Jim Jones worked out a nonlosing strategy that was based on the force of conviction, on the one side, and made a use of a horrification effect, on the contrary (Latson, 2014).

In conclusion, one should point out that the case of the Jonestown massacre is a perfect illustration of the awful consequences that can be a result of human’s susceptibleness to an external influence. The important point about this awful tragedy is that the initial motives of the Jonestown’s foundation were presented as good intentions and inspirations. Nevertheless, the innocent wish to create a better world can turn out to be a mere disaster in case it is skillfully used by a dictator like Jones.

Reference

Bell, F. (2013). Larry Layton and Peoples Temple: Twenty-Five Years Later. Web.

Latson, J. (2014). The Jonestown Massacre, Remembered. Time. Web.

This Day In History. (2010). Web.

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Remains of Nine Victims of 1978 Jonestown Cult Massacre Found in Empty Delaware Funeral Home. (2014). Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 21). The History of Jonestown Massacre of 1978. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-history-of-jonestown-massacre-of-1978/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 21). The History of Jonestown Massacre of 1978. https://studycorgi.com/the-history-of-jonestown-massacre-of-1978/

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'The History of Jonestown Massacre of 1978'. 21 December.

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