I have to admit, when I started blogging in 2003 about raising kids without religion, it was really out of frustration. It was personal. It was selfish. I wanted to be heard, wanted to connect with others who might be experiencing the same things.

Why am I still here? I have a couple of goals. One is to help our country move to a place where religion is completely and securely tucked away into homes and churches. The more we speak up and insist on this religious etiquette, the better. The second is to desensitize people to “our kind,” to let believers know we are not to be feared. And third, I want to somehow, in some little way, help change the abusive relationship we have with our planet.

As I see it, we are, as a species, a lazy, messy and self-centered group. We want to live in the burbs and drive our trucks and cool our big homes. We throw away the shit we get tired of, even if it’s in good condition. We buy too much food and either waste it in landfills or on our waists. We want new stuff when we already have enough. I know–I’m part of the problem. And I’m trying to change–by buying green energy, bringing my own to-go containers to restaurants and conserving energy, plastic, water and stuff in general. I try only to buy what I need and encourage my kids to do the same. I set my thermostat high in the summer and leave it low in the winter. I have a long way to go.

If you are a right-to-lifer and you care about saving “unborn babies,” then you should care about climate change. Anthropogenic activities are clearly changing the composition of our air. We’re making our planet much more habitable for plants and much less habitable for animals. The earth is not going to disappear. It will continue to adapt with or without us. We are in an on-going war with every organism for survival in an indifferent universe.

There are so many other really important changes we need to make. We need to reconfigure our cities so that we live, work and play in the same area. We need to stop using so much plastic, which comes from petroleum. We need to reduce our use of fossil fuels, especially coal, which is one of the dirtiest of our energy sources. We need to build as many net-zero energy buildings as possible and reclaim as much water as we can. We can mount solar panels on more homes, as silicon supplies allow. We can make each home into a little energy factory, adding windmills to properties that have the space and selling any unused energy back to the grid. We can build more bike lanes on our roads and bike more often. There is so much to do. I hope that many will help, including my kids who are, no doubt, tired of hearing me talk about this.

I’d also like to take a look at our churches, which sit empty for a large part of the week. How can we better utilize these buildings? How can we make them more energy efficient? Can we consolidate faiths under one roof through building-share?

Leaving it “to God” is not going to work.

So these are my goals. What are yours?


32 responses to “Goals

  1. Short version?

    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

    Too many people look to change everyone else while downplaying their own need for growth and change. While sometimes that is perfectly valid, we should all strive to “lead from the front.” We need to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.”

    “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
    ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

    So now that I’ve gotten the generic concept out of the way, my specific goal (remember it’s a direction and not necessarily an arrived at destination), is to help foster a world that is sustainable and egalitarian. Everyone the world over should have the opportunity to survive and thrive to their greatest potential. I would like a ‘calling card’ of sorts on record for every individual born stating various greetings and messages such as welcome to the family of man/humanity, that we welcome your contributions and advice, to seek knowledge on your own and do not feel necessarily limited by the restrictions/beliefs/superstitions of the region you were born, etc., etc., etc. (I actually have a more detailed work-up of this jotted down somewhere).

    The problems of humanity are vast, and while our sheer numbers play a large part of our difficulties, they can also point the way to our ‘salvation.’
    Nobody’s effort and contribution should ever go to waste. And we must remember, we can truly learn something from *everyone* (even, in the worst case scenario, as a negative example).

    • @LT Beautiful.

      I’ve always loved those quotes. And as for your goals, the idea of having “a calling card of sorts” for every person born is fascinating. Maybe you can share your more detailed write-up one day on this blog or another (just send me the link)!

      Yes, problems are vast….Maybe if we divide and conquer. I am organizationally challenged. If someone would just tell me, “Hey you! Take that little bit over there and get to work,” I think I’d be much more effective!

      • @Deb – Thanks. I think you’ve identified an essential component in that everyone brings different skillsets to the table and we should find ways to maximize their efforts as well as help them become strengthened in other areas (cross-training as it were – used extensively in military operations to provide capabilities in depth).

        Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

    • Lance, great post!

    • Saw this here…


      So I put this here —

      [last lines] from “The Great Dictator”

      I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone, and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The airplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say, do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you, enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written that the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people. Now let us fight to fulfill that promise. Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite! Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up Hannah! The clouds are lifting! The sun is breaking through! We are coming out of the darkness into the light! We are coming into a new world; a kindlier world, where men will rise above their hate, their greed, and brutality. Look up, Hannah! The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow! Into the light of hope, into the future! The glorious future, that belongs to you, to me and to all of us. Look up, Hannah. Look up!

      • @LT This quote from “The Great Dictator” is wonderful. It didn’t show up on my dumb smart phone last night–only the link. I do think we’re coming out of a place of darkness. It is a slow change, but we have more personal freedoms and rights now than ever before.

  2. Culture change takes a long time. As I see it, the culture that creates the mess has to die off before the culture that inherits the mess can fix it, only to leave some other mess for the next.

    By setting a good example for your children I think you are influencing change. Whether or not our generation will realize the impact of that change, well, who knows.

    In every case, our children are the future.

    • @Steven Clear It’s particularly difficult to make changes when you’re not personally hurting.

      Funny. You and I were children once. I hope we did something good with our future.

  3. Good idea about making better use of churches! I know many of them host schools or adult classes or community events during the week, which is good. But many don’t. Those buildings exist, are maintained, heated, and cooled 24/7/365, and are supported partly by tax exemptions. Full utilization of the buildings should be a requirement for receiving that exemption.

    Love your term “religious etiquette.” That’s all I’ve ever asked, respect and good manners — for believers to be polite and not push their religion on others or into the public arena.

  4. I like your kinda selfishness, Ms Mitchell 🙂
    You have probably done more for true religious tolerance than us all combined – perhaps not in a too distant future there’s a time when one’s religiousness is not at all an issue (my pref would of course be that all religions were discarded altogether).

    Of course there are exceptions but ain’t it sadly funny how the most pious are also the most ardent opponents of man-caused climate change and financial equality both within and between nations. Some shepherds…

    • @saab93f Thank you. That’s nice of you to say. I, too, would prefer that religion not be an issue, and maybe one day, God(s) will be history. We seem to be moving in that direction, or maybe, it’s just that more nonbelievers are speaking up.

      Yes, it’s so ironic that many of the folks who say they follow Jesus don’t want to address climate change or even offer their neighbors basic healthcare. Sad.

  5. Wow, the building-share idea is intriguing. Funny, I drive through these tiny towns with tiny populations – and they’ll have 5 separate enormous churches, for example. If they all pooled resources, they’d have one great congregation and then they could use the other buildings for other uses. What a shame.

    • @Shane Matthews I’ve seen that, too, driving through some small towns, even ones that look really poor and run-down. My thoughts are, wow, these churches are nicer than any other public or private building in these towns!

  6. Love every word of it!

  7. Re: Empty Churches
    I am from a small midwest town. In the last 20 years many of these small towns have died or are in the process of dying. People should have seen the writing on the wall as far as maintaining these seperate buildings. Congregations fight tooth and nail to keep their houses of worship maintained and open, even when they are getting down to their last 10 or fewer members. It is a huge drain financially on the members and a huge drain on Earth’s resources with the heating/cooling. Yet, you go to the larger towns/cities and they are building huge shrines with all the amenities and advanced technology they can cram in.

    Really like the blog. I am starting to “see the light” as far as not believing. Mainly because I am getting so disgusted with the religious right’s insistence on dictating how I can live my life. And like you, I fear for the human race’s future viability on our quickly “shrinking” planet.

    • @ndroll Wow. Can’t believe they’d keep churches open with few than 10 members. You don’t usually hear about church foreclosures. I wonder how often that happens. Around Dallas, we are home of the ridiculously big, pimped-out churches. You know–the ones with bowling alleys, cafes, work-out facilities, bookstores, etc.

      I’m glad you joined the conversation. We have a lot of good discussions here.

  8. Wow, Deborah! I had no idea that you’ve been blogging here for TEN years! Awesome.

    Very admirable goals. We are also killing ourselves with plastic – it’s got all kinds of toxic, carcinogenic byproducts that leach into our systems via outside contact. I recently read a book called Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History by Florence Williams, and it was eye-opening regarding all the toxins we put into our bodies and our children’s bodies with all the plastics we use.

    I’ve really begun to look up to you, Deb. Awesome post.

    • @Lisa That’s so nice of you to say. I have a lot of respect for you–you’re a great writer and thinker. I love your blog.

      I wrote here and over at BlogSpot. (I think it’s called blogger now.) My dad had read about blogging in Business Week when it first came out, and he said, “You know, you should…” And I did.

      I have heard of that book by Florence Williams. I also had a professor who was a chemist, and he used to talk about all the chemicals and pesticides we ingest. Honestly, it started freaking me out, so I just try to do the best I can. I was more worried for my kids because they were little and developing. Plastic is horrible for us and the environment. Convenient, yes. But awful. Styrofoam, too, because it takes so long to break down. It’s too damn bad that, in order to make changes on a large scale, we have to legislate them.

      I’ve read that CA is progressive in its environmental stance. You guys were way ahead of everyone else in mpg standards, but I think, too, the smog problem you had there probably helped facilitate changes….

  9. Hey Debbie,

    When I lived in Georgia, Hawai’i and southern California I didn’t see Churches used as community service facilities, but there were plenty of Churches that used public school buildings for their weekly services and huge prayer meetings. Crazy huh?

    I think we ought to be more mindful of what we use and what we ditch, not just for the future, but for those around us here and now. My husband is so much like this he actually blows his horn when sees someone in front of us throw out a can, paper or even a cigarette out of their car window. I wish people realized that cigarettes don’t go away like ashes. When children see them they play with them and even put them in their mouths, not to mention they’re quite an eyesore on the side of roads and highways. I have seen people driving through a parking lot, stop, and throw a soda can out their window. There’s a pasture for horses that my family often drives by and you would not believe all the beer bottles people throw over the fence near those poor animals. I would also say that everyone should clean up the shit (trash, etc.) in their own yard so I don’t have to clean it up when it hits my yard. People are just selfish.

    I would love for people to cut back on noise pollution too. Is it really necessary for everyone to talk on the phone while at the table? Privately and publicly? I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have been out, especially in a restaurant, and people have their ringers on loud ( I often see their dirty cell phones on the table the entire time.) then insist in carrying on 5,10 and even 20 minute long conversations, while they remain at the table and have other people in their party. I can’t believe all the people who are my age, and my parents’ age who act like this out in public. I was at one place recently and a teenage girl and her mom actually had her phone propped up on the table while they watched an entire sitcom show! (with no headphones or ear buds)

    I live next door to woods and a big field, and I cannot believe the old bottles, equipment, and other trash that people have dumped there over the years. Some of it has come into my yard through storms and excessive rain. It’s one of the big reasons why we had put up a fence between our property and the farmer next door. Someone would really have to go out of his way to use the area as a dump now.

    I guess I’m just bitchin’ and moanin’. I would just like to see people more aware and considerate of others and their surroundings. I didn’t need atheism, Jesus or anything else to make me this way either, I just think common sense and common courtesy go a long ways. Those were two huge attributes that I rarely saw in church, and that made it easier for me to leave.

    • @Charity I totally get it. I don’t think you are bitching and moaning. You just want to see people pull their own weight. I see a lot of folks throw trash out the window, too-once even a whole bag of McDonald’s food. Sad. And you can’t do anything about it-a police officer has to see it.

      Yes, butts are bad, too. I once wrote an article for the DMN on that. I’ll post it sometime.

      I agree–I think it’s rude to talk on phones when you’re out with others. Have you seen everyone at a table, all looking at their phone and not talking to each other? That’s sad, too. Guess people would rather do that then get to know their kids.

    • @Charity – These are some of the things society has to deal with when trying to steer the world in a better direction. LCD’s (lowest common denominators) can ruin things for everyone. In trying to work around this, we would have to take that into account. It has to do with adjusting for human nature. Much as we can get children to contribute based on their age-appropriate skills (a child too young to help with dishes because of dangerous glass might be able to sweep or pick up clothes or toys), we need to use positive/negative reinforcements with these individuals to get some sort of minimum level of compliance. Carrot/stick…whatever works.

      Put a $.25 deposit on butts and the homeless and underemployed would keep the streets looking as spotless as Main Street America Disneyland.

      From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. ~ Karl Marx

  10. I stumbled upon the website (of which I have no background info) but which made me sad. The status religions enjoy and the respect they require can lead to horrible things. In here we have quite few Jews and to my knowledge basically no orthodox Jews.

    If there is a systematic cover-up then I just cannot comprehend how the moderates even try to allow it let alone justify it. Some years ago I read about this little girl who was haeassed on her school journey by grown men because in their opinion she was not dressed modestly enough. If we would get rid of religions, little boys and girls had at least less trouble growing up – a worthwhile goal IMHO.


  11. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who takes her own containers for leftovers. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to spread that idea to others or seen anyone else do it although I do get lots of comments about what a good idea it is. I was also upset and amazed when I pulled out my own reusable bag at a department store recently – first time the cashier had no idea what I was trying to do and I had to explain it. The second time the cashier said I was the first person he had seen bring in their own bag.
    I would love to reduce our plastic use, but it is hard. Any other simple tips such as bringing your own containers would be great. I do try and make my son’s lunch trash free (so no juice boxes, plastic sandwich bags etc) and I do drive a Prius instead of a minivan or large SUV.

    • @Stephanie That’s so cool you bring your own containers, too! I bring my own bags or just don’t use one.

      The people who could make the biggest change in plastic is corporations–by changing a lot of their packaging. There’s this neat store in a city near me that sells vinegar and oil, and you bring your own bottle and fill from a big container. That would be good for so many things. I love Costco, but a lot of their vendors are so wasteful with packaging.

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