February 26, 2017

Lessons from My Mailbox

2-25-17

by Ed Chasteen

We are seldom aware of air pressure or gravity. Globalization is like that. All three are at work this morning at my mailbox. Air pressure tells me the proper pull to open my box, gravity holds my mail to the floor of my box. Globalization lies within.

The Liberty Tribune was spreading local news even before I moved into this house more than 50 years ago, and for the past several has come every Thursday in my mailbox. It’s two days late this week. I’ve just returned from a Saturday morning bike ride and stopped by the mailbox in front of my house. The paper is folded around several letters and a sale flyer. When I get inside and spread the paper on the kitchen table, I see evidence of globalization spread across the front page.

In Kearney, Smithville and Liberty I’ve come many times over many years to their small town cafes. Then back home at my computer I have typed out little stories about these rides and emailed them to the local papers in each place: Kearney Courier, Smithvile Herald and Liberty Tribune.

Now comes the news that the three have become one. It is not the Liberty Tribune I see on the table. In big block black letters in the upper left corner of the front page: CT. Then with a story across the upper half come words that explain how the three have all bled into one, that one now called Courier Tribune.

It had to come. This inevitable lowering of boundaries as the world turns, talks, trades and tasks. But its unexpected arrival on my kitchen table on a slow news day takes my breath away and drives me to my bed for a rare mid-day nap.

Some of the magazines I used to read have quit publishing. The Kansas City Times disappeared long ago; the Star has slimmed, cut staff and raised prices The end is coming.

There was a time before any of these. There will be a time after. Living through the transition is not easy. More boundaries will fall. And bring pain. The pain of new birth.

When I was 10 and had a bicycle, I got my first job. With a cloth bag stretched over my handlebars, I delivered rolled up copies tied with string of the Cleburne Times Review to homes on my route. My mother and dad and us three children moved to another town soon after. The Huntsville Item became our town paper. Since grad school at MU, Liberty has been my home and the Liberty Tribune my paper. Across time and space, my hometown paper has tied me to my roots and kept alive in my heart and mind loved ones I no longer see in person.

From my church and my college I have developed a longing for the Human Family Reunion, a gathering where folks of all colors, creeds and cultures are welcome and who’s right is the wrong question. Our sole/soul agenda is to learn to like one another. When this has been done, we can talk about right and wrong with at least the hope of understanding.

In longing to live in an open world, I did not think of the loss I would feel when little things went away, things like my hometown paper. When “Newspapers merge under consolidated banner” as the front page headline in the paper now open on my table explains, I feel lost. My town. Our town. Where did it go? What is it now? I’m still here. But here has changed. My mind is glad. My heart hurts.

February 24, 2017

Second Baptist Church held a Ministry Fair on the morning of Sunday, February 18. HateBusters was one of the 25 ministries available for folks to stop by, talk with, learn more and perhaps get involved. Several wanted to know what we HateBusters do and where we do it. This is what I wrote to all of those who gave me their email address that morning and what I now write to our church at large.

HateBusters in Greater Liberty

2017 by Ed Chasteen

Years ago when he was pastor of Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Dub Steincross would sometimes describe the one square block on which our church stands as “this little piece of God’s good earth”. I taught just a block from our church at William Jewell College and instantly in my mind expanded Dub’s description to fit both church and college, a two-block beacon in our town of Liberty. And so the size of “this little piece of God’s good earth” might have forever remained had it not been for that summer vacation I took 30 years ago.

From having been in church since my mother took me as an infant, I had acquired this abiding sense that since God is good, there must be at least a spark of goodness inside every person. So when I was 51, I set out to find that spark in the only way I could think of: by doing something fundamentally childish.

When I was 10, Mother bought me a used bicycle and taught me to ride. So when I was 51 and Jewell was out for the summer, I was given a bicycle built by a friend here in Liberty and flew with it to Orlando, Florida. Hosted by a Lutheran pastor and a Jewish rabbi on the weekend of my arrival, they came with me to Epcot Center on Monday morning to join the Disney crew in seeing me off.

For the next 104 days I pedaled northwest toward Seattle and then south to Anaheim, through 13 states, asking more than 500 people for the drink of water, the sandwich, the bed for the night: whatever at that moment I most needed. On the spot! Instantly! Each person had to decide what to do with me when I said, “Hello, my name is Ed Chasteen. I’m riding alone and without money from Disney World to Disneyland. By way of Seattle. To tell people about the Human Family Reunion. I need (water, sandwich, bed). Can you help me?”

Not a single one of these people had I ever met before. Not a single one ever said no. Each of us felt that spark of goodness in the other. Each of us lived an eternity in the moment of our meeting and sought in every way we could to prolong it.

Across the high plains desert on my longest days, I would ride 125 miles. So when I was at home back in Liberty, I drew a 125-mile circle around our town and dubbed this place Greater Liberty. So now in my mind “this little piece of God’s good earth” with our town of Liberty as its center goes north to Creston, Iowa and south to Carthage, Missouri; west to Manhattan, Kansas and east to Columbia, Missouri, including 104 counties, parts of four states and some three million people.

Though a place, Greater Liberty is also a principle. Each of us has Greater Liberty than our friends grant us, Greater Liberty than we ourselves exercise, to rise above and beyond all limitations of gender, age, race, religion, nation, class, culture, creed. Within each of us lives a World Class Person, one who can go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.

To live as a World Class Person and to help others move in this direction is the work of HateBusters. Taking seriously the axiom, “Think Globally act Locally” we HateBusters promise to respond quickly to any act of hate that targets anyone in Greater Liberty. Whatever the target of hate needs, we will provide: prayers, press conferences, love letters, lawyers, support of any kind. Free of charge.

We promise also so work to prevent hate in Greater Liberty by offering to teach our book, How To Like People Who Are not Like You: anytime, anywhere in Greater Liberty. Our book is available to anyone free of charge at www.hatebusters.com

HateBusters has no meetings and no dues. We give away membership cards to any who ask. We keep in touch by email. When work for us to do becomes known to me, I will immediately contact all HateBusters who have given me their email address.

Please respond to my message to you. Tell me something about yourself and how what I have to say appeals to you. Just email me at hatebuster@aol.com

February 21, 2017

An Open Letter to the Current Occupant

from Ed Chasteen

February 20, 2017

Sir,

I come from a long line of poor people. Neither grandmother could read or write. With an eighth grade education and a shovel, my dad started as a ditch digger. Mother’s dad had no formal education, thought only scarlet women went to college and refused to let her go. I became her surrogate and went in her place. They are all dead and gone now and I am old. Fifty-one years in the same house, 30 years at the same job and 60 years married to the same wife.

I taught race relations from the 1960’s in this place where I came straight from grad school, a place known irreverently among us long-timers as “this little pissant college in this little podunk town”. Because I have loved it here and found ways to involve myself and my students in the lives of our people, I never could leave. I could have gone elsewhere and taught the same books, but I couild never know the people and the issues as my long tenure in this place makes possible.

We started the Ethnic Activities Center of Mid-America, the Human Family Reunion and HateBusters. I wrote How To Like People Who Are not Like You. We taught it everywhere we could wrangle an invitation. All for free.

Sir, in the November 2016 election you carried my ward, my town, my county and my state. People around me are hurting and need the help you promised. If I thought you understood their need, if I thought you had a plan that would meet the need, if I thought you had the skills to work with congress and the courts, if I thought you would draw to yourself the best and the brightest to advise you; then I, too, would have voted for you.

I did not expect you to win. I did not want you to win. I did not vote for you. But eternal optimist that I am, I hoped you would rise to the occasion. Instead, you distract with accusations of fake news. You make clearly untruue and unneseccary claims of voter fraud and crowd size and electoral vote margins.You fire people who express any independence. You do not let cabinet members select their own staff. You micro-manage.

You sir, were born rich. You have grown richer. You are an ocean liner. I am a rowboat. You fly as an owner in a plane with your name on it. I pedal a bicycle that says HateBusters and has my name in script. You say you care about my people and our struggles. How could you? Empathy does not appear a quality you posses. You have no first hand experience. Rather, there is a long list of folks who claim they are your victims. Your talent for keeping people down has been on display for a lifetime. At helping people up you are a novice with no evident desire to learn.

I said to all who asked for months before the election that anyone in any way associated with your name would thereby be made less. I see no reason a month after the election to say otherwise. Now that our country has been made less, many are beginning to realize that their vote for a rich man in love with himself does nothing to ease their burdens. When all see their lives made no better by your high office, who can predict what remedy they will seek?

Make America great again?

February 20, 2017

The Current Occupant

by Ed Chasteen

If the current occupant of the White House understood that the United States Constitution mandates the equality of the three branches of government—Executive, Legislative and Judicial—he and his surrogates would not argue that his branch is superior to the others and entitled to lord it over them. It is not a king the American people send to Washington, but a president, one whose power is as limited by law as is his tenure.

When the current occupant of the White House acts in a way that defends the Constitution of the United States as he swore an oath to do, then he will have earned the right to be called President, and I shall so call him. Should that time never come, as his behavior to date makes likely, he will forever remain the current occupant.

February 8, 2017

The Pedalin’ Prof

And HateBusters Founder

Ed Chasteen

From

William Jewell College

Teaching People How To Like People

Box 442 Liberty, MO 64069 816-803-8371 hatebuster@aol.com

www.greaterliberty.org www.hatebusters.com

hatebusters.wordpress.com

February 8, 2017

An Open Letter to Friends I Hope To Meet

Disney dubbed me The Pedalin’ Prof that summer I rode my bicycle, alone and without money, from Orlando to Seattle to Anaheim, looking for goodness in every person I met and telling everybody about the Human Family Reunion we held twice every year at my college back home in Liberty, Missouri.

One-hundred-five days it took me to cross the country. More than 500 folks I’d never met took me in and became my friends. Across the High Plains Desert into the wind on my longest days I rode 125 miles. So when I was home, I drew a 125-mile circle around our town and called this place Greater Liberty: north to Creston, Iowa and south to Carthage, Missouri; west to Manhattan, Kansas and east to Columbia, Missouri. Some three million people in parts of four states with 104 county-seat towns.

When the summer of 2017 comes, 30 years will have passed since my 5,126 mile meandering by bike from coast to coast. During this time my students and I started HateBusters to help people hurt by hate and to teach people how to like people. We became so busy that in 1995 we became a 501c-3 non-profit, and I gave up teaching to devote myself to HateBustin’ and BikeRidin’.

Now to all Greater Liberty county seat towns I hope to come. In my fire engine red PT Cruiser HateBuster Mobile, license #H8BSTR, with my red Trek bicycle, lettered in white with my name on both sides of the upper tube and on one side of the down-tube PEDALIN’ PROF, and on the other FROM WILLIAM JEWELL COLLEGE.

I will park on the town square, lift the hatchback and extract my bike, then go for a short ride around town, greeting everyone I see and then coming to the local mom and pop cafe to meet my host who has invited me. Over a meal the two of us will get to know one another and discover what our meeting might mean to us and to our town.

I turn 82 later this year and could, I suppose, give myself a pass, thinking I had done enough. Sometimes I wish I could. But the messages I got in church and from the theater keep playing on a back channel of my mind and will not let me stop. From the church: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable will of God.” From the theater when Don Quixote’s friends advise him that wickedness wears thick armor: “And for that you would have me surrender? Nay, the enchanter may confuse the outcome ten thousand times, still must a man arise and again do battle, for the effort is sublime.” Indeed it is.

Ten two letter words that say it all:

IF IT IS TO BE

IT IS UP TO ME

Ed Chasteen