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    What was the essence of outsiders and how did it manifest itself?

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    I sat in disbelief as I watched the news; flames engulfing my home while my mother and so many others were still inside². Somehow I had escaped the fiery death that I was always led to believe as my fate. Ever since I was released from the compound 6 weeks ago I’ve been sick to my stomach, knowing what would soon happen. My name is Leana, I’m 9 years old, and I’m a Branch Davidian.

    I don’t remember much before the compound because we joined when I was just a baby. My mother once told me that before we came to the compound, she was married to my biological father. When we joined the Branch Davidians, their marriage (like many others) was undermined so that my mother could marry our leader. Both of my biological parents lived with me on the compound but I was taught to refer to them as dogs; because our true father was our leader, David Koresh.¹ Everyone in the compound was like a big, giant family; all of the adults pitched in with raising us kids.

    Growing up in the compound, we had a lot of rules and if we didn’t follow them, we would get spanked with a paddle that our father liked to call “the helper”. I was lucky in the fact that I’m a girl so I got to sleep in late; but the boys had to get up super early every morning to march in gym.¹ Even though girls didn’t have to march and do drills with the boys in gym, we all had to train for the battle that father was preparing us for by fighting each other. The fights didn’t last long, and we typically didn’t use weapons during training fights but when we lost it hurt much worse than you could ever imagine. Father always had the helper waiting for the loser¹; he said it was good motivation to do better next time.

    When we weren’t training, we were worshiping. Father led bible studies multiple times every single day, sometimes lasting for hours at a time. Bible study was one of my favorite times, because father liked to incorporate music into his teachings. He would play his guitar and sing songs about the scripture we were learning². Bible study was an escape from the chores and discipline of the compound; it was a time where I could relax and not worry about the helper or training.

    Father often told us of people outside of the compound, full of hate and evil. The outsiders were bad people and non-believers and they proved this to us February 28th³. That morning one of our members, David Jones, frantically burst through the front door babbling about police officers and a raid³. I didn’t know what a raid was at the time but all of the adults started panicking, so I joined in the chaos. One of father’s wives grabbed me and a few other young girls and rushed us upstairs. Not long after we had secured the door leading into the bedroom we were hiding in, I heard a loud banging from the front door. They had finally arrived; the outsiders.

    I sat with my ear pressed against the door, I was very curious as to why there was a large group of uniformed men surrounded our home. What had we done that caused so much of a fuss? After 30 deafening seconds of silence I heard the first gunshot, a scream and then a fire fight for what seemed to last forever. This was the moment we had all been training for, the battle father had always warned us about; it was finally here and I was terrified. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of a 51 day battle.

    The men that attacked our compound were wearing black uniforms that had a read “AFT” on their backs in yellow; many of the adults in the compound said they were government officials trying to take away our weapons because they thought we had too many. After the bullets stopped flying and the dust had settled, we lost 6 of our members and had 4 of the non-believers dead on our porch².

    One of the ATF men convinced father to release children in exchange for airtime on a local radio station. He used this airtime to spread our religious beliefs: that father had the god-given gift to unlock the seven seals of Revelation and touch off the beginning of the apocalypse³. To many of our members, this truly was the beginning of the end of the world.

    Over the next few days, father traded more of us children to the government for more airtime. Although we didn’t want to leave father and the rest of our family, we were assured by father that leaving the compound with the ATF men was the great sacrifice we had to make to win the battle. During these few days father told us not to worry, it was all a part of the plan. I was the last of the children to leave the compound on March 5th; the last of father’s non-biologically related children³. As I was ushered out of the compound, I was assured that I would eventually see my family again in Heaven¹.

    I walked out of the front door, which was peppered with bullet holes, and stepped onto the lawn. I started walking towards the large cargo vehicles that the government had surrounding the compound, and was swarmed by ATF men within seconds. I was pulled into a large black vehicle where I met a man who called himself Dr.Perry¹. He asked me if I was alright, and then proceeded to tell me that they were going to help me. The man sitting in the front seat started the vehicle and we began to pull away. As we left the property I couldn’t help but press my face against the window, staring and taking in the image of my home for the very last time.

    A short while later we arrived at a place that Dr. Perry said was the Methodist Children’s home², where the government had taken the other children from my compound. When I first arrived, there was a woman who greeted us at the door with a warm smile and her arms full of clean laundry. This place was very different from the compound; it was nice, bright and clean. The woman guided me inside, and led me into a small room that was covered wall-to-wall in tile and smelled like fresh linen.

    She closed the door behind us and twisted a metal handle at the top of a large porcelain tub, releasing a hot stream of hot water. I stared as the water flowed so gracefully from the tap; running water was something I had never seen before¹. The woman (whose name I later discovered to be Ann) must’ve seen the puzzled expression on my face; she grabbed me by the shoulders and told me “Everything will be alright, now undress and step into the water so we can get you cleaned up. It’s bath time”.

    I had never taken a bath before. Unsure of what the woman even expected of me, I stepped into the tub and immediately curled into a fetal position. The water was warm and felt good on my dirty skin, but I still felt so out of place and uncomfortable. Ann quietly talked to me as she showed me how to wash myself; mainly just small talk here and there, but it was enough to keep my mind away from the compound’s impending doom.

    After I had gotten clean and into fresh clothing, Ann escorted me downstairs where the other children from my compound sat impatiently around two long, rectangular tables. Ann gestured towards an empty chair at the end of one of the tables and I took my seat the other children start to chatter amongst themselves. Something was different about them, they had a light in their eyes that wasn’t present when we were together at the compound.

    Within minutes of sitting down, we all have a plate of food sitting at the table in front of us. Food was nothing new to us; obviously we got fed at the compound but never anything like this. I pushed the food around my plate for a few seconds, steam billowing above it with every slide of the fork. I couldn’t understand why they would give us food that was hot; we had never had hot meals before¹. I watched the adults in the room blowing air onto their food to cool it down before putting it in their mouth, so I mimicked their behavior and it actually worked well. The feeling of warm food inside my belly was different but nice; I felt comforted and whole.

    Life has been dramatically different here at the children’s home. Not only do we get hot meals and take baths, but they also have this magical porcelain seat that disposes of your waste! Back at the compound we would relieve ourselves using a designated pot, and then dump it out onto the lawn¹. Even though I enjoy not having to empty the potty pot every day, it still scares me every time I press the little silver lever on the back of the seat and it sucks everything down into god-knows-where². The adults taking care of us call it a toilet, but to me it will always be the scary water seat.

    At the compound we didn’t have toys, and what little electronics we did have were reserved for father and the other adults for battle purposes¹. Now we have more toys than you could ever imagine, it’s almost unreal. Dr. Perry comes to play with us for a few hours every day but always has a lot of questions for us¹. At first I didn’t ever talk to him because I didn’t trust him, father told us he was one of the bad guys. After a few weeks of daily visits from Dr. Perry things started to change, I realized the outsiders weren’t as bad as father made them seem. They actually wanted to help us.

    During the day, Ann sits in front of the magic light box that she calls a television and watches stories. The television has been our only connection to the compound over the last 6 weeks; our former home occasionally popping up on the news with information of father’s latest battle move. We all knew what was coming; we had been sitting in suspense for the last six weeks and as we gathered around the television in response to the “breaking news” we knew that the time had come. We had already accepted the fact that our families would die, many of the other children had mentally killed off their parents as soon as they were brought to the children’s home¹.

    Today on April 19th 1993, we all stopped pretending that our families were dead. We gathered in the dining hall to eat breakfast when our home was broadcasted on the television that was mounted on the wall at the end of the two long tables. The government had grown tired of father’s stand-off and had begun filling our home with tear gas in an attempt to force an evacuation². Choosing to skip playtime with Dr. Perry, we all impatiently sat around the television for the following hours waiting on any news of our home and families.

    It was nearly lunchtime when it finally happened². The image on the screen changed to a bird’s eye view of our compound, one that we had seen on the television many times before but this time it was different. This time there was smoke billowing from the compound’s roof and flames engulfing the building; the end of the battle and the beginning of the rest of my life in this new, different world.

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    What was the essence of outsiders and how did it manifest itself?. (2022, Dec 10). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/what-was-the-essence-of-outsiders-and-how-did-it-manifest-itself/

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