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Word Count: 2,235
Jim Jones and the Tragedy in Jonestown Suicide is usually an act of lonely desperation carried out in isolation by those who see death as an acceptable alternative to the burdens of a continued existence It can also be an act of self-preservation among those who prefer a dignified death to the ravages of illness or some perceived humiliation Websters 1002 It is even occasionally a political statement But it is rarely if ever a social event Therefore the reported collective self-extermination of 913 individuals demanded more than an ordinary explanation Reiterman 2 No casual observer could adequately explain what happened in the minds of the Peoples Temple members when they allowed leader Jim Jones to assume ultimate power over their lives The critical question remains of how an entire group could be motivated to give away such power over themselves to one man Not only is it essential to answer the question of power in order to explain what became of the Peoples Temple it is equally crucial to answer it in order to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again in the future The first step in understanding the Peoples Temple and the massacre that ended it is learning of the leader who guided these people to their tragic deaths James Warren Jones the Peoples Temples charismatic leader was a troubled youth whose past proved to be influential in his decisions and actions later in life Wright 69 He was born in the rural town of Lynn in Eastern Indiana about seven miles from the Ohio border Hatfield 2 As a lonely and vengeful child he learned to thrive on the margins of society He once told his followers I didnt have any love given to me - I didnt know what the hell love was Wright 69 His father had been gassed in the First World War and was basically an invalid Jones always claimed
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