My Journey to Jonestown

by Richard Klatt

When you think about the events that took place on November 18, 1978, what comes to mind? How does it affect you? For me, November 18 was just another date on the calendar. Then, one day, I watched a documentary that would change the way I looked at that day. I found out about what happened in Jonestown, but I didn’t understand the whole story. My life was changed for only a moment, but afterwards, my world went on. Still, the thought lingered somewhere in the back of my mind about what I had seen.

Life moved on, and I got older. I had seen so much through my few short years: Y2K mania, Bush vs. Gore election, and the Columbine High School shoot out, among other things. Jonestown, however, remained just a thought in my mind, just another event.

This year, however, was different. This particular year brought significance to me to that so commonly mistaken, ordinary day. A school research paper would pave the way for the most extensive research I had ever done. A world of knowledge and new experience began to flood through my everyday thoughts. What really happened in Jonestown? Who was Jim Jones? What was Peoples Temple? The answers to these questions began to seep through my mind as I examined page after page, website after website, searching for the truth behind it all. I unearthed what seemed to be a wealth of answers, but with each answer came even more questions.

Finally I reached the breaking point. Everything became as clear as day. Peoples Temple wasn’t a place to be brainwashed. It was a place to be helped. The purpose for the Temple was to bring restoration to the community. For one man, however, it became a dark and sinister tool which was used to manipulate and control, and ultimately destroy a community in search of a savior. I learned so much during my research, so much more than I would have if I had chose to let that day be just that: a regular, normal, ordinary day.

Originally posted on July 25th, 2013.

Last modified on December 3rd, 2013.
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