Last night I watched the Escape From Jonestown special on CNN. The show detailed the events that led to the tragic mass suicide and murder of 900 people, and interviewed survivors about their experiences and how they come to terms with the time spent there.
For most people my age, the Jim Jones scandal is known only in reference to someone "drinking the Kool-Aid" when others think they're blindly following a politican or religion.
But ultimately what I took away from the special was something much deeper. The main reason why 900 people took their own lives and murdered innocent children was because they allowed someone else, in this case the "Reverend" Jim Jones (who didn't even drink the damn Kool-Aid), to define who they were. They surrendered their individually and intelligence to a man that used any and every resource in his power to control their minds, bodies and souls.
While it is unlikely that any of us will get caught up in something like the Jonestown incident, many of us experience something similar on a smaller and less violent scale daily.
Think about it. How many times have you allowed others to dictate your opinions, what you wear, how you should speak, who you should date, what school you should apply to, what job you should take? How many instances have you denied or hidden some part of yourself( a personal interest, your spirituality or sexuality) so you wouldn't make waves?
I'm not saying we should never listen to the advice or tips friends and family give us about our lives, because it can be helpful. But where does the line between taking advice and allowing others to define you begin and end?
So I guess my point is that at the end of day(who thought up that phrase lol:) no one has to live your life but YOU. Seeking out others' approval will never bring you happiness or a sense of identity. Advice is good, but ultimately you have to know who you are and what you believe in. This requires introspection and critical thinking, two things that those who seek to control others want to stamp out. And what would you do when all those people who you let define you go away? Who will you be then?