Dead and Gone … and Lied About

by Vincent Skolny

Jennifer is my daughter. She’s three.

Puss-puss was my mother-in-law’s cat. It was hit by a car several weeks ago and, yes, its name really was Puss-puss.

Last week Jennifer and I went for a walk. Just out of the driveway, she asked me to hold her hand because, “I don’t want to get runned over.”

I explained her grammar error and obliged.

Without any regard for my explanation she went on, “If I get runned over, I will be dead and gone like Puss-puss and you won’t see me anymore.”

That’s a pretty good summary of being dead, isn’t it—gone and seen no more? I hadn’t really thought about it until she said that, but when the cat died, I explained that it was simply gone and not coming back. Apparently, she understood it.

It certainly gives lie to the silly idea that death is something children can’t understand, doesn’t it?

Death isn’t confusing at all: We’re gone and won’t be seen anymore. What makes death confusing and confuses children is pretending that dead people (or cats) are really somehow still alive. Or anything other than what they are: dead and gone.

Reality is seldom as confusing as lying about it.

As atheists we should never deny reality. In fact, if you think of the things commonly categorized as “too hard to understand”, “too confusing”, or “too mature” for children, you’ll find things like death, sexuality, and procreation—things Christians are afraid of and lie about.

As relevant atheists, we should never deny reality by not recognizing and rejecting the Cultic American Culture’s taboos that lie about it.

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