wild wild country

What a crazy new docu-series on netflix! I’m almost at a loss for words about how many aspects of our humanity are challenged and illuminated in this incredible re-telling of the events in the 80’s of the Rajneesh commune in Wacco County Oregon. The 6-part documentary, entitled Wild Wild Country on Nextflix, is about the followers of the spiritual guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, is a perfect microcosm of the U.S. and world’s primary struggle for peace. Peace among communities, peace among countries, and peace within yourself. The questions raised in this documentary are many, and so vitally important, especially in the current U.S. political climate.

The story begins by foretelling the coming of the people in red to a small town in Antelope, Oregon (population 40). The followers of the Indian guru Rajneesh purchased 140+ miles of land in Wacco County, called “Big Money Ranch”, with the idea of setting up a utopian like community from scratch. Though they told local residents they were purchasing it only for farming, their plan was to build the society they always thought was possible. And, to their credit, they did a lot of great work. Everything from their own power grids, to shops, a hospital, roads, homes, sewage systems, and even an airport was built. They believed in “free love”, and built a society where everyone participated, and everyone’s needs were met. No one was left behind.

Their local neighbors in Antelope Oregon however, weren’t too keen on their “free love”, and apparently the noise they created when they did come into town. The small town was mostly older people, who were very conservative and Christian. And that’s where the entire story begins unraveling the goodness of our humanity, and the darkness begins to take over. One existing community didn’t want to accept or even discuss their concerns w/ their new neighbors, and a war of beliefs transpired like you wouldn’t believe.

Poisonings, bombings, armed guerillas, attempted murder, jealousy, deceit, cons, betrayal, drugging, immigration fraud, hedonism, greed, power struggles, homelessness abuse, conspiracies, politics, and on and on. It runs the gamut of man’s potential goodness, to the worst aspects of what we’re all capable of as humans, and it illustrates it in an unbiased and thought provoking manner from both sides of the controversy.

Some of the most powerful questions raised by the documentary are: Do we really want freedom of religion in the U.S. anymore? What should our privacy and properties rights entail in regards to our neighbors? What does an “ideal society” really entail? What should our priorities be as a people? How does power warp man so easily? What does it truly mean to accept another human being that is “different”? What’s the proper relationship between a guru and student? How does man get so easily manipulated? Why do most opposing parties not recognize that they are functioning nearly identical to one another? What does it mean to truly be a compassionate human being?

It likely could have all been avoided

And this is what it all comes down for me. What if they had just left the commune alone, or had entered into a dialogue about their concerns? It appears both parties were reasonable enough to be able to find some compromise. However, that bridge was never crossed because fear of “the other” blocked all possibilities to a rational dialogue. Both parties retreated into a corner, instead of trying to understand each parties concerns. Thus, it became the wild, wild west of who’s belief and view of the world was best even though both beliefs could have lived without really ever having crossed paths much.