Friday, November 20, 2015

Don't drink the Kool-Aid

Sometimes your age creeps up on you in an odd way.

This week marked the 37th Anniversary of the Jonestown massacre where 909 people died in the largest mass suicide in modern history.  I was a week away from my fifth birthday and the news coverage marks the first world event that I remember.

This was before the nightly newsman warned viewers that the images to follow may not be suitable for children.  Let's face it, life is not suitable for children and this is why it is important to help them grow up before they have to face it as legal adults.

This is also the week of the year when an annual event I attend takes me to a local Methodist church.  It is a nice country church filled with nice country kid Christians but there is a sign in the kitchen that I just can not bring myself to ignore.
Keep it in the sanctuary!

I can't stop looking at it from the corner of my eye.  The first time I saw it, I was dumbstruck.  Even now I can't believe it remains year after year.  I want to go around asking all the other adults about it and asking, "How can anyone be so deaf."  I cope by allowing my internal dialogue to access my dark humor but otherwise keeping silent.

Beyond the Jonestown event, it seems to reflect a cultural deafness.  Churches, religions, ideologies, they should pretty much just steer away from any reference to Kool Aid.

It is good to remember the victims.

It is important to remember the lesson: know when to break away from the tribe and go your own way.

Fundamentalism is not restricted to one religion, one ideology, or one part of the political spectrum.  It can show up among conservatives.  It can be manifest among leftists, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, or, well, you fill in the blank.

We each need to police our own.  We all need to be ready to reject the extremes with word and deed.  There is also a time when we reach the limits of tolerance.  When grown-ups must intervene, hopefully before mothers start using syringes to get their toddlers to drink the kool-aid.

It is all part of life in the Anthropocene.

Too young to know the story?  Watch the PBS documentary.  Suitable for helping fragile little snowflakes become a little more prepared for adulthood.

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