“I Have Been To Paradise” – Text

“Charles Garry Visits Jonestown: ‘I Have Been To Paradise’”
The Sun Reporter, November 10, 1977

On Nov 6 Peoples Temple welcomed Charles Garry, who represents Peoples Temple as its attorney. Garry had recently returned from a visit to the temple’s agricultural project in Guyana Jonestown (so named by the Guyanese government). He had much information to shar

“Last Monday I was on a talk show,” he began, “and I had the opportunity to tell that [what] I had seen and I had been in paradise. I saw it. It’s there for anyone to see, and I’m hopeful that in the next few days or weeks we’ll be able to have a documentary, which everyone will be able to see.

[“]I saw community where there is no such thing as racism. No one feels the color of his skin, whether he’s black, brown, yellow, red, or white. I also noticed that no one thinks in terms of sex. No one feels superior to anyone else. I don’t know of any community in the world today that has been able to solve the problem of male sex supremacy completely. That does not exist in Jonestown.

“I also saw something else. There is no such thing as ageism. The community is comprised of the little children, the teenagers, the young adults, the older adults, the senior citizens, all together.

“I have never seen so many happy faces in my life as I did in Jonestown the three days I was there. I want that captured (on film) so that skeptical America will know what it is when you live without fear of the rent being due, and all the other problems we’re surrounded by.

“There are some 800 persons or more there now. They’ve got cottages set up that you just could not believe. I saw sanitation there that I have never seen in any part of the world, except Switzerland. You can eat off the ground.”

He went on to speak of the consistently high level of medical care, organized under a doctor who is “thorough, conscientious and dedicated.” The medical team has “the latest in medical equipment and books,” and “every person who goes to Jonestown is medically thoroughly examined, and charts are prepared.” He recalls that he urged Dr. Schacht to start keeping daily, hourly diaries, to put the operation of the medical compound in writing, so that some of our medical schools, and the American Medical Association, can learn from what is being done at Jonestown.

A high point of his talk related to the care of senior citizens, which he said moved him deeply. “All the senior citizens’ cottages are built around the immediate vicinity of the medical compound. Every single morning a member of the medical team knocks on the cottage of the senior citizen and inquires, ‘Did anybody have a problem during the night? Do you have any problems here this morning?’ Can you imagine the security that the senior citizens feel with this kind of care? I’d like to have a representative from a body here that’s trying to improve the lot of senior citizens who are felt to be beggars and paupers to see what is going on in Jonestown.”

He spoke of the many agricultural projects, including an improvised method of developing feed from protein food growth in Jonestown. The area of Jonestown devoted to raising animals also drew praise. “Those pigpens, as we call them, looks like palaces. Many of the homes that I’ve seen in America could not measure up to the sanitation, the cleanliness, the spaciousness of the place we call a pigpen.” The chickens raised and butchered at the project he called “luscious,” and the food generally is “delicate, nourishing, and it’s [the] type of food that will make your blood pressure go down, your diabetes will disappear. It’s substantial, nourishing food – the kind that will take away the fat you accumulate by the type of food we eat here.”

The project as a whole is described as quite developed: a thriving sawmill, generators to meet electrical needs, wells, streets, refrigeration. The school is open air, and a large covered area, with 15 to 20 youngsters in a class.

Teachers are drawn, in part, from “at least 50 people there who have advanced degrees.” He spoke of the enthusiastic participation and discussion on the part of all the students, which is something he had not seen here, with the exception of the Oakland Community School.

Does Jonestown lack for entertainment and fun? Not at all, Garry says. “There’s this beautiful auditorium, and for three and a half hours I saw the most beautiful entertainment in the world. I’ve never seen such talent in my life. I saw children from toddlers through about the age of seven putting on a demonstration, with voice, and clapping, and marching, and children six and seven years old getting up and reciting poetry with meaning and gusto. It was just remarkable.

“Why are those people so happy?” he mused again. “They are learning a new societal order. They are learning an answer to a better life. When I returned to the States, I told my partners in the office that I had seen paradise. From what I saw there, I would say that the society that is being built in Jonestown is a credit to humanity.”

And then, as if to reinforce the amazing description, he added, “This is not propaganda. I’m not a propagandist. I’m a hard-hitting, factual-analysis lawyer. I saw this with my own eyes. I felt it.”