Sunday, October 20, 2013

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

I remember hearing a tune on the radio with the memorable line "paranoia will destroy ya'". I had no idea of who had recorded that tune, so I just googled the phrase. is the short URL for the page on which someone answers that question, and reprints the lyrics.

It would be hard to conceive of a better example of the destructive power of paranoia than Jim Jones. In an article at, a survivor talks about what it was like to be a part of The People's Temple:

Do you think he really believed he was doing something good for the world?
It's hard to know the mind of Jim Jones. He was a very complex, confusing character. In some ways he was a good guy. He was passionate about interracial integration. The People's Temple built schools, built housing, built a health clinic, built a kitchen, cleared fields, harvested crops. His goal was to set up this utopian community where everything would be fair and equal.

At the same time, he was very paranoid. He could not accept the fact that one person would leave him, ever. He had us all sign papers -- Jim called them compromises. They were blank sheets of paper, or typed sheets of paper that he'd cover up while we signed our name. He had something he could blackmail all of us with. One guy tried to leave and Jim said he'd use his paper against him so he'd never see his children again. So he came back. The thing was, too, that Jim would not let children off the compound. So if you were going to leave, you were leaving your child. There was no way of getting a child out of Jonestown.

Scary, huh? Most pastors are not paranoid to that extent, or even close to it. But any time a Christian leader acts as if he or she is exempt from criticism, as have several pastors I have known, that person is showing that he or she has tendencies which are different from Jim Jones only in degree, not in kind.

Jim Jones apparently attracted a lot of racial minorities to the People's Temple, because he did seem to be their friends on some level. But black folks can be paranoid, too.

John L. Jackson wrote a book called "Racial Paranoia: The Unintended Consequences of Political Correctness". Jackson is black, so his words seem to be worthy of attention.

I'm sympathetic with blacks who have been victimized by genuine racism, but there are others (e.g., Barack Obama's former pastor) who have used charges of racism as a means of manipulating others to give them what they want.

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