I recently watched this documentary on the Sundance channel about the late pastor-or rather cult leader-Jim Jones and the horrific tragedy that occurred at his compound called Jonestown in the country of Guyana in the late-70s.
For those of you who don't know, on November 18, 1978, over 900 of Jones's "followers", a third of them children. committed mass suicide after drinking poisoned Kool-Aid. (Well, technically, it was Flavoraid, which is a cheap knockoff.) This is where the phrase about "drinking the Kool-Aid" comes from.
Along with Jones's "followers", congressman Leo Ryan and nearly all within his delegation who visited Jonestown to address various complaints lobbied against Jones and his compound were also shot to death at an airstrip while trying to leave Jonestown by a group of Jones's armed henchmen.
A few of Jones's "followers" did manage to escape by fleeing into the jungle, including his sons who were not at the compound at the time of the tragedy. Jones himself died from a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head (though some speculate that someone else actually shot him).
There have been, of course, other documentaries & news specials about Jim Jones and what happened at Jonestown. There was also a TV movie about Jones called The Guyana Tragedy starring the late actor Powers Boothe as Jim Jones.
I remember watching that movie as a kid and got freaked out, especially the scene where Ryan and his delegation were brutally massacred by Jones's loyal henchmen.
Now I've, of course, seen countless horror movies, but THIS one horrified me more than any of them since this was based on a REAL incident. And who needs fake horror movie monsters when you have REAL monsters like Jim Jones?
I believe this led to my aversion to "groups", in particular those that demand "conformity" from its members (like, for instance, the PCers), especially those who screech on social media sites like Twitter & Facebook about ONLY wanting to be around "like-minded" people. (Since, you know, that sort of "mentality" worked SO well at Jonestown!)
This also reminds me of the song "Cult Of Personality" by rock group Living Colour which can VERY easily describe Jim Jones who was not only an admittedly charasmatic leader but who was also a media and political darling at one point who had also compaigned for Jimmy Carter.
Sadly, what happened at Jonestown was not an isolated incident. Before Jonestown, there were the horrific Manson family murders in the late-60s and, back in 1997, there was the Heaven's Gate mass suicide that, like Jonestown, also claimed to be a "religious" movement that also involved UFOs. (Google it.)
Besides Jonestown, the most infamous "mass suicide" happened in 1993 at the Branch Davidian compound that burned down after it was raided by federal agents that led to the deaths of nearly 80 members, including children, The compound was led by cult leader David Koresh who was a Jim Jones type.
So why DO people "follow" maniacs like Jim Jones? People MUCH smarter than me have debated this. One thing I do know is that, were it not for their "followers", there'd be NO people like Jim Jones. If THAT sounds harsh, keep it mind parents MURDERED their own children at Jonestown because Jones told them to do so.
Again, this is why I feel more than a little uneasy whenever I hear people talk about being around "like-minded" people and such. And this is why I tell people to think for themselves and NOT be "brainwashed" by psychotic con men like Jim Jones.
But, unfortunately, with human beings the way they are and how some-or many-people look to others to think and/or make their decisions for them, tragedies like the ones that happened at Jonestown WILL happen again.
One more thing about Jim Jones: According to the documentary I watched, Jones was an "admirer" of HITLER & how he could "command" an audience. I said it before and I'll damn sure say it again: People SUCK.