It’s easy to create a cop-out for the way people act, particularly if said person is acting crazy. In fact, the only real way to explain the actions of some people is to claim that they are “nuts”. In the case of David Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell, you could definitely get away with calling him crazy. You could also say that the ridicule of his peers in school, often calling him “Vernie”, may have driven him over the edge. But how does your every day lunatic manage to coaxe a group of people into staying with him while the ATF and FBI attempts to siege your fortress?
I, on the one hand, will say that there were a few things wrong with Mr. Koresh. He was dyslexic and a horrible student, which resulted in his subsequent dropping-out of high-school. Also, he had many grand illusions of becoming a rock-star, which led to him moving to California for a couple of years. At this point in David Koresh’s life, he was a failure. However, he was a failure who knew an awful lot about God. In fact, he knew alot more than most lunatics know about the Heavenly Father.
That explains the move back to Texas, where he joined a religious sect known as the Branch Davidians. Now, the Davidians themselves were not crazy, just a little zealous. Koresh joined with the Davidians, and actually enjoyed a 4 or 5 year affair with their leader, Lois Roden. After Roden’s death in 1986, her son George fell into conflict with David on who was going to lead the Davidians from there. The majority of the congregate agreed that George should be the leader, resulting in the departure of Koresh to Eastern Texas. He returned, however, with seven men and a small militia’s worth of guns and ammunition. In the end, Roden had suffered shots to his hands and chest.
Koresh and his acolytes went to trial, but were never convicted. Pretty astonishing for a bunch of nuts, eh?
The story is well known after this point. This was the time that Vernon changed his name to David Koresh for business reasons, when the UPS man was delivering around $200,000 worth of weapons to Mount Carmel, when the ATF and FBI led a 51 day-seige of the compound. However, Koresh was always copped-out as being insane. It is true that he may have been demented. However, I believe it to be true that Koresh employed just the right amount of craziness to cover the fact that he was actually a very persuasive person, or at least persuasive enough to fool the legal system of the United States. The fact of the matter is that Koresh was a zealot. He believed in what he felt so passionately that nothing else was the truth. The only thing that was different about Koresh than any other religious leader in the world was the religion he believed in. He had grown up in harsh conditions, and had stuck to the bible as something to read and memorize to get through the day. Now, it is not proven that he was psychotic, demented, schizophrenic, or any other sort of crazy besides dyslexic. Truth be known, Koresh had a keen sense on how to get people to do what he wanted, and make it seem right.
So is it fair to say that Koresh was just a product of a poor environment? Is it fair to also say that if Koresh had grown up in a nice little Northeastern city, would he be preparing someone’s taxes to this day? Maybe, but the likelihood of the matter is that he tasted the sweet taste of power, and just didn’t know when to stop.