Meet an Activist Member: Carole Beaton

Name: Carole Beaton.

Where I live: Eureka, Calif., on the beautiful Redwood Coast. We have glorious scenery, boatloads of artists, great food and perfect weather — plus a very accepting and diverse community.

Where and when I was born: Spooner, Wis., in 1945, but I grew up in Phoenix.

Family: My only family is my wonderful life partner of almost 25 years, Will Dvorak. We met on a century bike ride (that’s 100 miles), and have been riding together (and not just on the bike) ever since. Our “kids” are our 10 cats.

Education: B.A.’s in psychology and education and an M.A. in special education, plus about four more years of “continuing education.” In spite of all this “education” I consider myself self-educated. I learned to think sitting in catechism class when I was a child trying to figure out what all the nonsense was about, and I have educated myself by reading everything I could get my hands on all my life. With modern technology, I can even “read” audio books while walking and driving.

Occupation: I quit my paying job to pay to work (really). I was a teacher for 36 years in the public school system. I have taught regular primary students, juvenile delinquents (in Los Angeles) for 13 years and retired after 17 years as a resource specialist teacher in Eureka.

Now I “pay” to work as co-founder and co-director of an animal welfare nonprofit. We assist in spay/neuter surgeries, and I started and coordinate the “Animeals” program for our local senior center. Every week, seniors who get home-delivered meals also get pet food delivered. I get much of the food donated, and I deliver about half of it myself. Gas and pet food is expensive, not to mention all the other expensive animal situations where I end up with the bill.  

How I got where I am today: Here I am in a nice (paid for) house with a great man, 10 cats and a meaningful avocation. How did I manage this? Lots of hard work and lots of luck. No god required.

Where I’m headed: At age 67, I expect I’ll end up decomposing within the next decade or two. In the meantime, I plan to keep active by walking at least five miles several days a week, riding our tandem at least 100 miles a week, and especially continuing my animal welfare work. Will and I plan to be buried “naturally” in the same plot to decompose together and eventually return to the universe.

Person in history I admire: Paul Robeson (1898-1976). If you haven’t heard of or know much about him, find out. His son, Paul Jr., wrote two excellent books about this black genius who was destroyed by the government because of his “socialism” and because he loved Russia and sent his son to school there to be treated like anyone else. In Russia, race was not an issue.

Paul Robeson was one of the most famous men in the world in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Most Americans now have never heard of him.

A quotation I like: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” (Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion)

These are a few of my favorite things: Riding our tandem around beautiful Humboldt County, walking in our cool, clean air, reading books and listening to audiobooks, watching educational documentaries on the couch with Will and our cats each evening. Helping low-income people with their beloved pets adds real meaning to my life and is probably my most important favorite thing. It helps pets and people and the whole community.

Pet peeves: Standardized testing (I was lucky to work when I could still teach my students to think), religion infiltrating government on all levels, wars and incompetent journalists.

My doubts about religion started: When I started Catholic school in third grade because my not-too-religious parents wanted me to get a good education. Their money was wasted because I spent all day doing long division and writing my spelling words 100 times a day, etc., but the 45 minutes of catechism really did “educate” me. I’m a born skeptic, so nothing they taught in religion class made any sense to me. It scared me and gave me nightmares because I didn’t believe all the stuff these smart adults believed.

As a child, I started to learn all I could about sociology and anthropology and was surprised to find out there were many different ways to live. Margaret Mead’s books and James Michener’s Hawaii finished the job. I have been openly nonreligious since I was about 16. (It was fine with my parents because they just went to church for social reasons and really regretted putting me through the ordeal.)

Why I’m a freethinker: I can’t take any credit. I was born thinking for myself. I have always defied society’s norms for women of my generation. I am child-free by choice, got an education, worked for 36 years. I’ve never let a man pay for my dinner. My company is not for sale.

I have to give the Catholic Church some credit, however. Their absurd dogma was what really got me thinking and made me the good atheist that I am.

Ways I promote freethought: I try to be gentle and funny. When people thank me for spaying their cat and say, “God bless you!” I may say, “Thanks for the nice thought, but I don’t think God will be blessing an atheist!” When someone says, “Thank God for the bag of dog food!” I may say, “Thank Petco, they donated the food!”

When I’m in a situation where I’m doing good work and someone praises me, I may say, “Yup, you don’t need a god to be good!” I never argue with anyone and always try to smile. (I do stick FFRF nontracts on the windshields of cars sporting too many religious bumper stickers.)

Freedom From Religion Foundation