Rachel Johnson

Atheist Blogger- the godlessvagina / Podcaster the pink atheist

Surviving Tragedy In America


Days like yesterday make you want to lock the doors, crawl in bed, and never look out at the chaos that can exist on our world. It is maddening, heartbreaking, and terrifying to see incidents like the one that took place. 20 Small children and 6 adults lost their lives, and now everyone is trying to make sense of senseless violence. So how do we survive such a tragedy, and what can we do to prevent it?

The fact is, it will happen. We will face this, and as our nation delves into turmoil over job loss, home loss, healthcare loss, and many more social issues we will see more eruptions. It is hard to say what went wrong in the head of the man who took out his rage on defenseless children and school officials, and even harder to say to children.

Many parents are afraid to send their kids back to school. Many are worried about how, and when it will happen again.  I wish I had news that it won’t, but I would be lying. So what I will say is a few things we all need to hear.

I am not one to tell others how to raise their kids. I have my own son, have made my own mistakes, have had my nights of tears, and have faced all the things many parents know well. I have a few insights into what it is to be a single mother. I know the struggles of making just enough money to survive and barely enough to go beyond that. I don’t often talk about him for many reasons. Ones I won’t go into here.

What I will say is that I have had to explain hard things to him, and did so in a way that was to the best of my ability. I have had to say there are bad people in this world, and there are good people. Not everyone is a bad person out to hurt others, and there are some really kind people on this planet. We can’t live in fear of bad things happening. It is not rational.

We have to make some sense of this world for our selves, and those who need us to make sense of it. In a big society there are bound to be a few bad people. But if you look, there are not that many bad people. What we see is the amount of harm one bad person can do if given the chance. The guns make it easier, but even taking all of them away would not make this world safe. I know there are many other ways that people can do large amounts of harm to many people. What we need to look at is why.

Our society is in a social structure change. We are seeing job losses, and new jobs where many people are not yet skilled enough for them. CEO’s getting extreme amounts of compensation for bankrupting businesses. Not enough health care being given, not enough social support and structure. Families are more spread out and not as close as they used to be. We can see that our new century brings many beautiful technologies, and many problems with it.

We still have people with mental illnesses not being diagnosed, or treated. We have thousands of homeless. Kids are bullied, and made to feel bad at school for not fitting in. We have some issues, not just some parts of society, but the majority of society. What we need is to start looking into what is ailing America. Not run and hide from it. We have had killers before this one. If you look back at Jesse James, Baby Face Nelson, Charles Manson, Jeffery Dhammer we can see there are a few in our society that just have no love for life, and no regrets in taking it.

It is especially hard when it is little children, because they have the hopes of bright futures, dreams to live, growing to go to dances, prom, first kisses, first loves. All of the things we would wish for any child, especially our own. So it hits us deeper in the core when it is little children who have yet to live. Especially those who still have little children, and you look into those tiny faces, and think, it could have been you, but I am glad it was not.

It is okay to have those feelings. It is okay to not want that to happen to your loved one. It is okay to be afraid, but not to let that stop you from living a normal life. The chances are better it won’t happen, than it will. You also have to teach your kids to be strong, smart, and hiding away won’t do that. Life is not fair or just. That is the way it is. Those children have devastated parents, siblings, grandparents, and loved ones who will be facing the hardest times of their lives in the next few days, and it won’t be okay for them. It may never be okay for them again. It is sad to say, but loosing a child can destroy a person.

We don’t have any guarantee on our lives. Anything can and does happen. We always just live on and hope for the best. One thing we can and should do is support each other, stand by friends and neighbors. Help those in need, and support equality and rights for everyone. Once we start seeing other people as real human beings, and not just a stranger, we can learn to work together to make our kids, and society safe. But it will not prevent tragedy from happening.

We can talk about guns, mental health care, and bullying, but that may not stop things like this from happening. We do need to have those conversations though. But we do not need to overreact. We have to think about the world we want our kids to grow in and know. We need to make this life a place that is good for them as long as we have them. We need to help them grow to be good people, smart, and healthy minded, and pay attention to what is going on with them, and that means honest and open discussions, age appropriate of course.

There were hero’s in that school. Teachers who locked doors, and read to the children, even though they knew what was happening. Teachers who put their lives on the line for their students. They were the hero’s, the underpaid, badly treated, overworked hero’s that were there when it came to keeping kids safe. Lets not forget that.

I know it is heart breaking. It is awful, and we should be angry, but lets not forget to be strong. We have to raise a generation of kids who will be the next line of hero’s. We are America and one thing 9/11 did was show us how strong we can be. There will be talks in the next few days. News reports, and pictures. There will be families torn apart. What we need to do is start to heal them, and open the conversations about what we can do. No amount of police, or military in schools will prevent this. What we need is to fix the issues in our society that are causing these horrible things to continue. We need to be strong, and lean on each other. Remember what loved ones are for, and forgive.

Many people ask me how I deal with my family, since they are often pushing at me about being an atheist. Since they are nothing like me. My secret is that I know that they don’t know any better, and I forgive them because it must be hard to live in such ignorance of life and reality. I also know that no matter how wrong they are, I love them, and hate and anger would only consume me. I pick my battles, and you should too. Making this world a better place begins with the love you have to give, and seeing people as imperfect flawed, messy, sometimes ignorant, hate filled people they are, and being strong enough to love them any way. Because at the end of the day, with all that hate in their heart, you have to ask how much they really love themselves.

We are atheists, we know how to live without the myth, but part of the myth we hold is being perfect, and none of us are. We are just messy humans, in a messy biological world trying to survive and help others to do the same. I know we can survive this and anything. We just have to start talking about what is wrong, and work to make it right.

Author: Rachel Johnson

I am a writer about atheist issues. Separation of the church and state. Women and their right to choose, and sex. I talk about all of the "taboos" of modern life as well as evolution and science.

2 thoughts on “Surviving Tragedy In America

  1. Hitchmas will never be the same 😦

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