The phrase, “Don’t drink the kool aid” means to think for yourself, and not just blindly follow someone or believe what they say without checking for yourself. It comes from an incident that happened on this day in 1978.
40 years ago today, 909 people were either murdered or committed suicide in what is commonly known as “The Jonestown Massacre.” It was the largest number of intentional civilian deaths in American history prior to September 11, 2001.
They had followed “Reverend” Jim Jones to the nation of Guyana, South America as part of his cult. Congressman Leo Ryan of California lead a group down to investigate what was going on. He had heard from some who had escaped about assaults of every nature, and people not being allowed to leave.
Leo Ryan was an amazing Congressman. To learn more about the school system, he became a substitute teacher. To learn more about the problems in the prison system, he had himself incarcerated in disguise in Folsom Prison. Based upon the concerns expressed by his Northern California constituency, he was going to Jonestown to investigate.
When they arrived, the group put on a show for Ryan and his party. They were well rehearsed and choreographed to make Jonestown appear to be a utopia. However, before long, several cult members slipped Congressman Ryan notes say that they were being held against their will, and Jonestown was much different than what they we’re seeing. They wanted help escaping. Ryan was going to take them on his plane, but Jim Jones’ security team met them at the airport with machine guns and open fired. Ryan, three journalists, and a hopeful escapee were murdered.
After this, Jones convinced his followers that the American Government would be coming for them. They were told they needed to commit a “revolutionary act” before the government arrived.
They lined up over 300 children first. Nurses went one by one injecting a syringe filled with a cyanide laced potion directly into the children’s throats. Then the adults each were given a cup containing a deadly kool aid mix with cyanide in it. Nearly everyone died within 5 minutes.
Over 900 people died because they gave their blind faith to a man without thinking for themselves or checking the facts.
This message is more important now than ever. There is so much Baloney out there, it is really hard to know what the truth is. Don’t believe something is a fact just because someone said it. Don’t drink the kool aid. Listen to multiple voices. Listen to voices that contradict each other. Listen to voices that have credibility. Check the facts, then double-check them. Don’t pass along something unless you are sure it is true.
Some say the phrase “Don’t Drink the Kool Aid” is misused because the victims were forced to drink it. So, Don’t even put yourself in a position to drink the kool aid, or let someone force it down your throat.