The United States of Guyana
There is a better than average chance that many people today that read this blog do not know who Jim Jones is or the horror he orchestrated in Guyana on November 18, 1978. I am not shocked that many people may not even recognize this seemingly generic name. It would also not shock me that there are dwindling numbers of people that would be able to recount what he masterminded in the days and months prior to my sixth birthday in 1978. We live in a drive-through culture. If we can’t have it hot, now, and on the go, it is deemed worthless. Sadly, this has bled into our lives and how we educate not only our children, but also ourselves. This tragic story is eerily reminiscent of how the drama that is America is unfolding hour by hour, day by day, on the modern stage that is life.
For those of you that are still addicted to social media and those 140 nuggets of wisdom known as a Tweet, here is a very brief synopsis of what is known as the Jim Jones Massacre or the Guyana Tragedy. Jones was a charismatic preacher that ultimately led his flock to a small area in northwestern Guyana named… wait for it… Jonestown. Anytime you are following someone that has a town named after themselves, that should be a red flag with a hurricane siren blaring in the background. Ultimately, Jones would convince 918 of his followers to commit suicide by drinking poisoned juice. Later that same day, Jones would hasten is own demise through the utilitarian practice of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. If you have ever heard the phrase “drinking the Kool-Aid,” this is the genesis of that statement.
I largely stay away from political discussions because they produce nothing of value. Let’s face it, if you are a liberal, conservative, anarchist, communist, or whatever political tag you choose to apply to yourself, there is nothing that I could say or do to change your mind. And to be fair, that is a two-way street. I have my beliefs, but they are mine, and I choose not to share them in a context in which they are not warranted. I wish the rest of the world would join me in this lifestyle, but I haven’t found that genie to grant that wish…. yet. I say this because from a self-protection standpoint, it is imperative that individually and collectively we understand the motivations of those that wish to harm us, even if they don’t explicitly tell us. I doubt very seriously Jim Jones told his followers early on that he would poison them. I also doubt very seriously that our political leaders in America and other nations would be so brazen. Ironically, we are traversing down a well-trodden path.
The motivation for this blog came from a podcast I was listening to regarding how people are leaving Los Angeles in droves. I have always adored Los Angeles, which is ironic because I despise large cities. Let me restate that: I loathe urban areas. The crowds, gridlock, and pollution are enough for me to stay close to my roots in those small towns John Mellencamp sang about many moons ago. But the larger issue is witnessing our neighbors destroying their livelihoods, and their lives, through the greatest and most destructive weapon known to mankind: choices. Yes, I said it. Those of you living in large cities have no one to blame but yourself for your current situation. You chose this through your sense of entitlement and by choosing to put people in power over you that see you as nothing more than a pawn.
Choices have consequences, despite what your college professor is telling you in the ivory towers of academia. If you touch a red-hot stove, it will char your flesh, and it cares not what color your flesh happens to be once it meets your acquaintance. If you desire to own a business that is the dream of your life, yet you refuse or fail through choices to put in the work that is required to make the business bloom, it will fail every time. If you choose to go skydiving without a parachute, you are free to do so with the understanding that the two-for-one deal you purchased with the skydiving instructor was not such a good deal after all. We all make thousands of choices every day. Some of these choices have miniscule consequences. Other choices are a matter of life and death. If you have ever had to make the decision for medical treatment for a loved one when their life hangs in the balance, you are familiar with this feeling. Yet when it comes to decisions that impact our lives and the daily lives of our neighbors, we are flippant.
Thousands upon thousands of people are leaving places like California, Illinois, and New York because of astronomical taxes, draconian laws associated with gun ownership, property rights, and a laundry list of other grievances. It makes you wonder how something like this could happen in a country that boasts itself as the Shining City on the Hill. The answer to this is rather straightforward. This happens through choices.
In a few short months, many of you will head to the polls again to do your civic duty. I will not be joining you, and don’t come at me with that asinine argument that if I don’t vote I have no right to complain. You all that continue to feed this beast created this mess, not me. Our choices have pigeonholed all of us into a right versus left dichotomy. To put this in context, the malcontent in front of you that is robbing you blind will either be holding the gun in his right or left hand. That should make you feel better knowing the end result will be the same.
Several years ago, a charismatic preacher convinced 918 people to follow him to a remote area of South America in a journey that would eventually lead to their demise. If your stomach can stand it, spend about 10 minutes of your day and stroll down the modern-day Trail of Tears known as Twitter. Politically and culturally speaking, it is the equivalent of a snuff film with subtitles. The choices we are all making today are not working, and that goes for all of us, right, left, or center. This has become an issue of self-protection individually and collectively because as a society, we are approaching a crossroads if we haven’t already reached it. We can continue down the same path, and if current events in our streets are a barometer, we will most assuredly tear each other apart. Our current way of life in America is a Hobson’s Choice. We take what is available or nothing at all. Is it possible that those 918 souls in Guyana in 1978 felt similar to what we are all feeling now? I contend that it is because the leadership at all levels is behaving in the same fashion. They just don’t have the common courtesy to join you at the final curtain call like Jim Jones did.
You have a choice to not lock your vehicle when you go inside a convenience store. You have also made a choice to be victimized if you do so. You have a choice to eat fast food three meals per day and not exercise. You also made the choice to check out of this life from heart disease at 35 years of age as a result of that choice. You have a choice to come to your martial arts or self-defense class each week and improve yourself. You also have a choice to not follow your instincts and wish you had when you are robbed at knife point. We all have a choice to look at what we are doing to each other politically, culturally, and socially and say enough is enough before we are forced to convert our Subaru into a vehicle that would make Mad Max green with envy.
The realist in me says the choices that are about to be made will be what color the Kool-Aid will be inside the cup. Red or Blue: What shall it be for you?