Most of us recognize that saying as a reference to Jonestown and what happened to the people who lived there. For those of you who are not familiar with this incident, there was a man named Jim Jones who was head of the People’s Temple. He was a charismatic leader and several thousand people followed him. His services were known for faith healing and mind reading. Although the People’s Temple was involved in outreach activities in their communites, Jim Jones did not treat his own followers so well. They were humiliated and beaten and were told that if they left the People’s Temple, they would be put in government-run concentration camps. When the press began to look into his activities, he moved several hundred people to Guyana and they lived on an agricultural commune there. Eventually the relatives of some of the people who lived there were concerned about their welfare, and they contacted their representatives in Congress to look into what was happening in Guyana. A group of people went there, including a Congressional representative, and some of them were shot and killed. Fearing government retaliation, Jim Jones instructed his followers to drink a fruit juice laced with cyanide and about 900 people drank it. When the authorities came in response to the murder of the Congressional delegation, they found most all of the followers of the People’s Temple dead.
The lesson for all of us is not to blindly follow those that lead us. No matter who the person is that we are following, we must always evaluate what they are telling us. If what they are saying sounds a little off, we must take a step back and take a good hard look at what they are teaching us. Do they have an agenda and are they trying to shape our thinking according to that agenda? Are they living what they are teaching or are they exempt from what they are espousing? Are they fomenting racial hatred and fear? Are they treating those that don’t agree with them fairly or are they demonizing them?
I look around and I see many people doing just those things. They have an agenda and are trying to influence the people who follow them. They don’t really care about the facts or the truth, they want to demonize those that do not agree with them and stifle honest conversation. Their agenda, their party line, etc. is what’s important, not the truth.
It doesn’t matter if it is a politician, news anchor, pastor, teacher, or other spiritual guru, we must not follow what they say without running it through a truth grid. If we don’t take a step back and honestly evaluate what they are telling us, we will buy into their agenda and make choices that will eventually be harmful to us. We must seek out the truth and be willing to listen to those of a different persuasion in order to evaluate whatever situation is going on.
We don’t want to be drinking their Kool-Aid. It may not be laced with cyanide, but hatred, false information and bigotry are just as deadly if it gets into our minds and hearts. Let’s do the hard work and seek to find out the truth in whatever situation they are telling us about, then we won’t be like sheep blindly following our leaders.