DayBreaks for 08/22/19: Drinking Your Own Kool-Aid
From the DayBreaks archive, August 2009:
Many of you will recall Jim Jones and the People’s Temple located in Guyana. Jones was a charismatic leader by all accounts. He had fanatically devoted followers who left behind families, homes, careers and jobs in America to follow him to a jungle “paradise” that was called Jonestown (that should have been a clue to the man’s ego.) They moved after a magazine, New West, raised questions about the legality of some of their practices. According to Wikipedia, after moving to Guyana, Jones developed a belief in something he called “Translation” – the idea that he and his followers would all die together and go to another planet to live in peace. He even held mass suicide “practices” where followers would drink Kool-aid and fall to the ground as if they were dead in order to prepare for Translation.
The day finally came when it wasn’t practice – it was for real. A total of 914 people died in the mass poisoning – 638 adults and 276 children. By the time that authorities arrived, many of the bodies were already in such a state of decay that there is some dispute about how many actually died. It was not a pretty scene.
I have often wondered about the mindset of those present in Jonestown on that fateful day. It is hard for me to comprehend parents giving cups of poisoned Kool-aid to their little ones. For me, it is almost as hard to understand how people could take the cup and drink it down themselves.
An old blog entry had a synopsis of an article from Vogue magazine by Jenny Sanford (the wife of the infamous Governor Sanford who was caught having an affair with an Argentine woman while lying about his whereabouts to his family and staff), where she was describing what it was like to watch her husband’s “addiction” to a woman with whom he was carrying on an affair. The writer of the blog (my youngest son, Tim) noted this quote from Ms. Sanford: “Politicians become disconnected from the way everyone else lives in the world. I saw that from the very beginning. They’ll say they need something, and ten people want to give it to them. It’s an ego boost, and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid. As a wife, you do your best to keep them grounded, but it’s a real challenge.”
What struck me was her comment: “…and it’s easy to drink your own Kool-Aid” – a reference to what happened in Jonestown and how it was so deadly. It isn’t just politicians who are quick to drink their own Kool-aid. I fear we are all quick to believe our own deceptions and lies and to seek that which flatters and boosts our egos. It is frequently said of sports teams or athletes that get too “fat” of a head that they “believe their own press,” i.e., they believe the things they say and think about themselves to an unhealthy and potentially fatal degree.
We do the same thing when we think we’re better than we really are, or when we think we can withstand a certain temptation that has always pulled at us – and we’ll get too close to it and wind up in the dirt like the families who died in Jonestown.
God doesn’t give us poisoned Kool-Aid, nor does He want us to drink our own concoction. Instead, He offers us the Living Water – water that is pure, sweet and gives us life.
Maybe it’s time for us all to do some serious introspection to find out if we’re drinking our own Kool-Aid.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. – Isaiah 12:2-3 (KJV)
PRAYER: Our eyes are all too often blinded and our minds are dulled by our own press and impressions of ourselves, Lord. Help us not to drink our own Kool-Aid, nor the Kool-Aid that anyone else would offer us. Help us to seek and drink only Living Water! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>