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An extraordinary event took place two weeks ago.

39 people were murdered in Southern California.

Your typical suicide doesn't require written instructions. Or an extra pair of hands. Or 20 years of videotaped brainwashing. No way was this their "choice." This was murder.

steal.JPG Yet there was no low-speed chase. Choppers and forensic teams didn't crawl all over this mansion. Heck, we didn't even call in Mulder and Sculley.

For the most part, the media reported on what can best be called a "Disneyland" version of Heaven's Gate -- blissed out little hobbits, with sweet little voices, and those darling little buzz cuts and uniforms.

Cult Veterans This hit me personally. While I watched those earnest, wholesome, engaged cult members on the TV I realized I could have been any one of them. I spent 23 years in Transcendental Meditation, and I, too, believed in flying saucers, my ability to levitate, immortality, and saving the world by my merest thought. There but for the grace of God went I. And at least 100,000 of my friends.

I can't really fault the press or the public for their abysmal lack of empathy. They haven't the foggiest notion of what it feels like to be mindf--ked brutally, repeatedly for 20 years.

loved.JPG But 10 MILLION of my generation do. We stumble out of the cult battlefield by ones and twos -- and we ain't pretty to look at. We are the psychically halt, the lame, and the blind. We don't give "snappy soundbites" and "good TV." Most of us are still lost. Most cult veterans are still in various stages of recovery, just trying to get click those ruby slippers and come on home.

If the public doesn't understand, it's our fault -- all of us who have tried to educate the public for so long.

sob.JPG Many of us cult activists have been talking lately behind the scenes about why we just can't seem to unite behind massive actions. You'd think if any generation could take a page from the Gay Rights and Women's Liberation Movements, it would be us!

Between our own well-earned phobias about group involvement and the "button hammering" we take from the cults and "religious scholars" who claim we're just "anti-cult cults," we may always find it indeed difficult to unite behind a leader or group. globemed3.JPG

That's why I think our challenge is to find small individual actions that we can choose to do -- or not. Possibly leaderless. Most likely, finding the least common denominator that we can agree with.

You know, like murder and psychological torture aren't nice.

In that spirit, tomorrow is April 19 -- anniversary of both Waco and the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Let's take back our own power from these horrors and these horrific groups. Let's use the next week to educate in small ways the world at large about our own personal involvement in cults.

acid.JPG Anyone who is comfortable "coming out of the closet" will find a variety of graphics on this page you can download to your Web page or emails. No need to give credit. No need to link to ours or any other particular cult education site. Our gift to you.

And naturally we'd enjoy other submissions to our budding memorial art collection for cult veterans and victims.

We figure it's unlikely your government will ever bestow any medals for surviving the Cult Wars. So go ahead, grab your own.

marry.JPGchild.JPG America knows what 39 people draped in purple look like. America has no frigging idea what 10 MILLION former cult members can accomplish.

We may not need a march on Washington, or a black day on the web.

Perhaps a simple chain email, "I'm a cult veteran -- and I'm one tough son of a bitch" flooding cyberspace, will do.

Large Globe

For a high-resolution graphic or print of this painting, please email Proceeds go to Concept Don Krieger -- illustration by 72dpi graphics.

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Except where noted, entire contents Copyright ©1995,1996, 1997 John M. Knapp.

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