Drinking the Kool-Aid
“Drink the Kool-Aid” has become so much of a cliche in our culture that many of the people who say it, don’t even know its origins. On November 18, 1978, in the Jonestown settlement in Guyana, South America, at the orders of their leader James Jones, 909 people lined up and drank a cup of Kool-Aid that had been laced with cyanide. All 909 people who drank the Kool-Aid that day died.
What would cause 909 people to drink poisoned Kool-Aid? Why did none of those 909 people ask the obvious questions, why am I listening to this guy? Why would I drink Kool-Aid that’s going to kill me? The answer; blind devotion to their leader, refusing to question his irrational requests. Where did this devotion come from? These people had been following James Jones blindly for years. His first request of them offered something more promising than drinking poisoned Kool-Aid; it was a chance at something glorious. That’s the way it works. The first ask of compliance is never mass suicide. It’s never destructive. It’s always something good. They get you to comply to more palatable request first in order to build a compliance of trust.
Five years earlier, Jim Jones promised these people, a utopia, that’s what Jonestown was supposed to be, a heaven on earth. All they had to do for this utopia was give him their money, give up their freedom, their rights, and follow him. It seemed like a fair exchange, money, freedom, rights for utopia. And these people did it willingly. They brought their children. They convinced their friends. They blindly followed their leader and his vision. The most dangerous leaders ask their people to give up fundamental rights for their own good. And when they do that, buckle up, something bad is about to happen.
Over time, many people living in the Jonestown community realized that it was not utopia, that all they had given up was not worth what Jonestown was giving them. Some spoke out, others wanted out. But people weren’t allowed to speak against Jim Jones and the community, and no one was allowed to leave. When a contingent of Americans, led by California congressman Jim Ryan and some reporters visited Jonestown, some potential defectors secretly asked Ryan to help them leave. Ryan and the reporters were subsequently gunned down by the Jonestown guards. When military forces closed in on the community because of these murders, Jones convinced the people to drink the Kool-Aid and commit mass suicide by telling them the authorities were coming to get them. Most complied, only a few people escaped with their lives.
In America today, we are being asked to give up some of our freedom, surrender some of our fundamental rights, hand over more of our money to our leaders, and they promise they will protect us, and produce their utopian vision of equity. And people comply willingly; they demand their fellow citizens obey government mandates; they cheer the raising of their taxes; they pump their fists approving the gutting of our Constitution. Think about it, there are American citizens who believe restricting rights and freedoms, and raising taxes are good things. They argue for giving more of our freedoms and money to some of the most corrupt people in the country. This is the mentality of people who would eventually line up and drink the poisoned Kool-Aid.
For the last 14 months, the vast majority of Americans have blindly followed what the government asked, whether it was locking down their state, shutting down schools and businesses for almost a year, destroying people’s lives and livelihoods, stripping us of our rights. Our leaders told us to do this, and like the people in Jonestown, we complied at our own peril. We are continually told we must wear a mask, even when outside where the chance of getting or spreading the virus is so small that it’s statistically insignificant, but many people still blindly comply. We are told we must have a vaccine injected into our bodies because it prevents us from getting and spreading the virus, but at the same time we are still mandated to wear a mask to stop the vaccinated people from getting and spreading the virus they have been vaccinated against, and people blindly comply to these contradictory commands, and shun those who question them.
I’m not against wearing a mask inside or the vaccines. What I am against is government mandates that we, the people, are not allowed to question. What I am against is citizens bullying and shaming other citizens into blindly complying with these government mandates. This is the type of mentality that results in 909 people lying motionless in Guyana, South America from mass suicide. Many of the people who drank the Kool-Aid in Jonestown were not forced at gun point, they pressured by the other members of the community into complying with the leaders’ irrational wishes. People were so afraid to stand up to the crowd that they chose death over defiance. ‘Shut-up and do it’, they were told, and we have been told for the last 14 months. We should be able to question the mandates of our leaders without being shamed, shunned, canceled, or fired. And those who disagree with that would probably have been one of the first in line holding the Dixie Cup filled with red Kool-Aid, shaming others to do the same. It is a scary mentality that we see these days. People are so scared to stand up to our leaders or the mob that they will sit by and allow the death of our country rather than questioning unfounded mandates.
We are humans. We are adults. We require more than telling us, ‘just get the vaccine’, or ‘just do as you’re told’. Convince us. But that requires the use of logic, reason, and facts. But when our medical leaders such as Dr. Fauci and the CDC have been wrong, or contradicting themselves and science for the last 14 months, logic and facts cannot be summoned to convince us, so they shame us, ‘get the vaccine or you’re a bad person’, and ‘wear a mask or you’re evil’. They are not using logic and reason; they are using fear and emotion. People who ask questions get bullied, shamed, or shunned, which creates more obstinance.
The vaccines are not poisoned Kool-Aid designed to kill us all, but they may be the precursor to that Kool-Aid. Our blind compliance has shown our leaders what they can mandate the citizens to do without question. Even though I believe the vaccines are good, I also believe the United States citizens should be allowed to question them, they should be allowed to decide for themselves not to take the vaccine. I and my children have been vaccinated many times. Even though the Covid-19 vaccines were the quickest brought to market, and they only have emergency use authorization from the FDA, they are the only vaccines that the patient receiving are not allowed to question, and the medical professionals administering are not forthcoming about. All the other vaccines that I or my children have received, the doctors and nurses giving the shot were overly transparent and informative about their pros and cons. They were extremely patient answering my questions, making it clear it was my choice. There was no pressure, no secrecy. The pressure and secrecy surrounding the Covid-19 vaccines is what fosters the non-compliance.
What is at stake here is much more dangerous and deadly than Covid-19. Questioning our leaders is a fundamental principle of a free society. We should be allowed to question everything our leaders say, everything. Once we lose that, we will lose our rights, we will lose our country, we will lose ourselves, and many of us will lose our lives.
Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach, and executive. He is a frequent contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.