To all who were one time or another tapped as Dad’s successor: Get in line.
Good God, even I was given the nod and anyone who knew me at the time could tell you how ridiculous that was, even if you account for my young age. Part of me so wanted it to be true – the same part that wanted to latch onto Dad’s claims of his and my unique extra-terrestrial origins – but the growing part of me knew it was bullshit.
Because the way I see it – and I think this was obvious to anyone who knew him – was that Jim Jones never contemplated Peoples Temple without him. He couldn’t. Oh, I have no doubt he fantasized many times of how he’d be mourned and honored, and how devastated and lost we would all be, but he had no interest in taking it past his involvement.
The world, as Dad saw it, did not go on without him. I suspect that it was almost nothing to Dad if not his audience.
I’m finally at a point in my life where I can look back on it without feeling some embarrassment that the leadership carrot was dangled in front of my nose. Dad was good at getting people to believe that he was the one to give them what they wanted most. A true leader – the few that I’ve examined – want the spotlight least. They will do whatever is best for what they believe or are involved in, which may require some control of the reins, but their heart is with the purpose and the people. So, that I was led to believe that I might “lead” the believers, which in my mind meant being the most important and in charge, shows very clearly that Dad read me as self-absorbed and grandiose above all else, with just enough charisma – I don’t consider this a good trait – to be somewhat believable as a potential successor. He really could read people.
Okay, I can think of one heir-apparent – maybe two – for whom the Temple’s best interest and purpose were primary influences. And they shall remain anonymous to allow anyone who may need to believe that they were true leaders-in-waiting to think that it’s them that I have in mind.
(Stephan Jones is a frequent contributor to the jonestown report. His other stories in this edition are Baby Toes and Restored Humanity. His earlier writings for this website appear here. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)