September 19, 2018

HateBusters and Greater Liberty

9-19-18

by Ed Chasteen

 

I live in a town called Liberty. Just a few miles from another called Independence. I came here straight from grad school to join the faculty of our local college. Early on I was tempted to move and work in some other place. I knew I would like the new place. But I liked it here. Why leave?

After 30 years I did leave my college. Not to retire! To do full time what my students and I had started years earlier. We called it HateBusters.

A headline in the Kansas City Star got us going: KLANSMAN WINS ELECTION IN LOUISIANA. The governor invited us to come help. A black church and a white church invited us. We went. Word got out. We began to be invited all over the country. We got so busy I had to leave the college to give HateBusters my full attention. We became a 501 C-3 non-profit. Headquartered in my home. In the basement. Past the washing machine.

We needed focus. I loved living all these years in the only house I’ve ever owned with the only wife I’ve ever had. With our three children who went to the college where I taught. I loved as much the world I’d read about in great books and seen in great people. Living long in a little place had wedded me to smallness. More to footnotes than headlines. I discovered that big problems yield to laser-like focus.

One summer when I had no obligations at my college, I put to a test the world vision I had gotten from great books and great people. Every person on the planet has at least a spark of goodness and genius inside: This I believed. I wanted to know. How could I?

I got on a bicycle. By myself. With no money. Planning to ride from Orlando to Seattle to Anaheim—Disney World to Disneyland—asking strangers along the way for exactly what I needed at the moment and for the best way to the next town. For 105 days I pedaled. More than 500 people I asked. No one said no. They all gave advice. I found the spark.

On my longest days across the high plains desert of Washington state where towns are far apart, I pedaled 125 miles. So when I was back home in Liberty, I drew a 125-mile circle around our town; thus came Greater Liberty, both place and principle. The place goes north to Creston, Iowa and south to Carthage, Missouri; west to Manhattan, Kansas and east to Columbia, Missouri. The principle is this: we all have greater liberty than we ever know to live above and beyond all the limits other folks expect of us and we uncritically assume, such limits as race, religion, gender, class, culture, creed.

The world is a big place. Its problems are endless. Overwhelming in mass. Frustrating enough when viewed alone. More likely, though, to yield, at least somewhat, to concerted effort. By focusing on this place and this principle, HateBusters adopts the oft heard maxim: Think Globally, Act locally.

Those who stir hatred make headlines. To counter them, HateBusters seeks equal attention. When bigots came with their signs to march in our street, I had the same right to march. I ran to my office. Made a sign. And ran to join them. My sign said, “These guys are nuts.” The crowd laughed. They had come to intimidate. Not entertain. So they left.

Responding to hate is necessary but not sufficient. Hate must be prevented. So with our book, How To Like People Who Are Not Like You we go to schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, civic clubs, prisons, homes. Anywhere we’re invited. Free of charge to those who invite us. Supported by those who like what we do.

Teaching people how to like people does not make headlines. Hate averted is never known and not reported. Because hate does make headlines when it happens, it seems to appear more often than it really does. If it bleeds, it leads seems universally true. And though true, gives a jaundiced view.

HateBusters promises to respond to any act of hate that targets anyone in Greater Liberty because of some despised identity the hater applies. HateBusters promises to teach people in Greater Liberty how to like people. Everything we do is free to those who need us. We are all volunteers. We have a mission. We will not be deterred.

No one would know to blame me if I did not work at my self-appointed task. But guilt and grief would hound me all my years. I could not rest easy in my grave.

 

For your free E-copy of How To Like Who Are Not Like You, Ctrl click on www.hatebusters.com then on Books

 

HateBusters

Invite us and we will come.

Join us and we will win.

 

Our Belief

Until we get to know each other, who’s right is the wrong question.

Our Motto

Red and Yellow, Black, Brown and White

Christian, Buddhist and Jew

Hindu, Baha’i, Sikh and Muslim, too

All are precious in our sight

Our Practice

To oppose hate wherever we find it and in whatever form it takes.

To teach others how to oppose hate and why they should.

Our Dream

To become World Class Persons,

able to go anywhere at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe

and to teach others this skill.

Our Address

Box 442

Liberty, Missouri 64069

Phone: 816-803-8371

e-mail: hatebuster@aol.com

http://www.hatebusters.com

 

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BIG Welcome at BIG Rigs

September 15, 2018

Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018

BIG Welcome at BIG Rigs

by Ed Chasteen

 

Interurban road runs seventeen miles straight, flat and smooth through open country still mostly cropland, with a few newly-minted homes. Farm trucks and assorted tractors vie with bicycles from Ferrelview to Dearborn. Little Toot drew us to breakfast in this place of near 500 more than 20 years ago when we first began to ride. After it burned, Logan’s Bar &Grill one day came and lingered for a while. Then Cook’s Corner Café occupied part of what once had been the Lickskillit Mall, kitty-corner across Main Street from where Little Toot had been. When after more than five years, Cook’s Corner moved to Smithville, we could find no breakfast in Smithville.

Then it was we realized that Interurban Road ran not only to but through Dearborn. Through its brief journey through town it’s called Main Street and becomes county road Y as it acquires hills and turns and comes some eight miles past to a truck stop café just off I-29 on this near side of the tiny town of Faucett.

Big Rigs Café is reason enough to pedal the 23 miles from Ferrelview. Comfort comes on more than the plate: The private room we’re always given; the care bestowed by ministering angels as they bring us ice water, ice tea, hot coffee and the breakfast of our choice.

The journey really is the destination. Nothing comes close to the natural high of pedaling a bicycle on such a day as this. A close second, though, is the interlude that comes in a small town café two hours into the ride, with another two still to come. Jessica Martinez, Bev Jocobs, and Patti Elliot wait on us today and make us welcome.

 

 

Riders today: Mike Margaita, Sean Cavanough, Mike Nason, Dustin Prockish, David Evans, Craig Leff, Ed Piepergerdes, Paul Klawinski, Jeremy Briscoe, Richard Woodruff, Greg Snodgrass, Bill Hessel, John Vernickas, Ed Chasteen, Dwayne Hughes, Mark Maston

September 15, 2018

Open Letter to Morris Dees at the Southern Poverty Law Center

Morris,

Your recent letter ended: “If you can, please send a generous gift. Just as important, be an activist for justice in your local community.”

HateBusters started as a class project in my Race Relations class at William Jewell College in 1988 when David Duke was elected to the Louisiana State Legislature. The governor, a black church and a white church invited us to come to Baton Rouge to help the state redeem itself.

HateBusters is now a 501 c-3 non-profit. We teach our book, How To Like People Who Are not Like You. We respond immediately and publicly to all acts of hate that target any person’s race, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation. Haters are cowards. To wait encourages them to think either that we’re afraid of them or that we agree with them. Neither is true. Either makes them harder to beat.

If we had tons of money, we would send most of it to you. You operate on a grander scale. We focus on this little piece of God’s good earth we know as Greater Liberty. We live in Liberty, Missouri. We drew a 125-mile circle around our town, going north to Creston, Iowa and south to Carthage, Missouri; west to Manhattan, Kansas and east to Columbia, Missouri. We call this place Greater Liberty.

Greater Liberty, though, is more a principle than a place. We all have Greater Liberty than we know to live above and beyond all the labels other folks apply to us and we uncritically assume, labels like race, religion, gender, nation, sexual orientation.

We HateBusters never have much money. By choice. That summer I biked alone and without money across America for 105 days made me know the power that comes from total dependence. Having to explain my self and my need and win a stranger’s help in under a minute, doing so hundreds of times from Orlando to Seattle to Anaheim, always with the same result, brings on a natural high from which you never come down.

No one is born hating. Everybody is a natural born HateBuster. If you don’t want to be one, we say, send us your name and we’ll take you off the list. Otherwise, you’re one of us. We give away membership cards. We have no dues and no meetings. Just work to do. We stay in touch by email.

Morris, I have admired the Southern Poverty Law Center for years. I sing your praises everywhere I go and in everything I do. I read every word in all the ways you send them to me. Years ago when I was given some money to give to a cause, I gave it to the SPLC. I have none now to give. My gift to you and the SPLC comes in what your letter said was just as important.

Together, we hoe to the end of the row.

 

Ed Chasteen, HateBusters founder

816-803-8371

hatebuster@aol.com http://www.hatebusters.com

Come Monday Morning: Part One

September 3, 2018

Come Monday Morning

Part One

9-3-18

By Ed Chasteen

 

Come Monday morning, everyone in our town will love everybody. I was 15 years old that Sunday morning when this thought entered my head. Brother Clinard had just preached another elegant, eloquent sermon about loving all people. He had not been pastor of our church very long, having just finished seminary. But long enough for me to see him about town and know that he lived what he preached. He never raised his voice or made a gesture, but his sermons were powerful. Life changing. He brought heaven down to earth.

I was walking on a cloud as I got up from my pew and headed for the door. A deacon stood to either side of that door. The 19 words that would pass between them as I walked out of church flash off on and on in my mind like neon in the night to this day and will until I cease to draw breath. I could tell you their words, their names, describe their looks, their professions. I have done so in other accounts. Before I was old enough to cut them some slack. Having now done things of which I’m ashamed, I choose now not to label these two by what I hope was their meanest. Their most hateful.

Their words, though, were still on my mind three years later when I graduated high school and walked across town to our local college. As the oldest of three children, my mother had assumed all my life that I would go to college. She had not been allowed to go. I would go in her place. Just go! That had been front and center all my life. But what to study?

With no particular person or place to go to, I wandered by the campus bookstore. I walked around, looking at the books. A green hardcover caught my eye. I picked it up and thumbed through it. Here is someone trying intellectually to understand the religious and social problem I saw that morning in church! Love and hate together in the same place. Like a blast of trumpets this notion took over my mind. I took the book to the cashier. “What major is this book for?” I asked. “Sociology.” She said. “That’s my major,” I said as I paid for the book.

That book is a condensation of a major study of race relations in America sponsored by a major American foundation, conducted by a Swedish economist, when the Foundation concluded that no American could be sufficiently unbiased. Since I found it at age 18, that book has been in my possession.

Year later as a PhD candidate, I was given a fellowship by  the University of Missouri that required me to move to Kansas City but allowed me to study any topic. That very year Kansas City had voted to determine if the city would continue to deny Black people the use of public accommodations. I chose to study who took each side, how they explained their reasoning, how they got out their vote and how the result affected life together.

I got to know so many people that when I had finished, I did not want to leave. I could go anyplace and teach the same books, but I would never know the people and the problems as I knew them here. When I was given the chance to teach just minutes away at William Jewell College in the Sociology Department, I jumped at the chance. Discovering that I would teach Race Relations sealed the deal. I began in that instant to think of myself as a doctor for my community, ready and able, I hoped, to offer helpful advice to help solve social problems.

 

Part Two is Coming

Family Traditions Cafe

September 2, 2018

Smithville Bike to Breakfast

9-1-18

By Ed Chasteen

 

Optimist that I am, I’m thinking no one may come. The rain comes even before I get to the bike shop. I’m a half-an-hour early. The rain keeps coming. Stops. Then starts again. A driver pulls up, a bike strapped behind. Then drives away. Ten minutes to go? Light mist. Riders appear. They report others will meet us along the way.

“Is it raining there?” She asks when I call on my bike phone to tell Family Traditions to expect 20 bikers about 9:15. The route we take from Liberty to Smithville is not direct, twisting and turning, up and down, diverted near the end by a missing bridge: 25 miles of legs as pistons and lungs as bellows hones ours appetites razor sharp.

Three tables some distance apart we take, the long one against the back wall, a table for four in the middle of the room, one for five by the left wall. And several riders come when most have finished.

Three new riders have come this morning. Abboulaye just bought his bike. We are still on Wither’s Road when the gearing will not work. At Southview Drive, in the rain and way last, we load his bike in my car and together ride SAG. I know he wants to ride, but there’s an upside to everything. We have time to talk. He graduated from Ohio State as an engineer. Joined the military after 9-11. Now works for Honeywell, here in KC. I tell Abboulaye about the HateBusters T-shirt I’m wearing, the work we do to combat hate and the book we teach to help people like each other.

While I’m still inside the café, some of our bikers open the hatch on my PT Cruiser and extract Abboulaye’s bike. He is riding it around the parking lot when I come out. The bike is too little for him. But the gears work. He makes it back. Also first time with us this morning is John Ricciardelli, and Brian Johnson. All three work for Honeywell, and have come this morning at the invitation of Dwayne Hughes, who  has ridden with us now several times and is also with Honeywell.

 

 

Riders: Richard Woodruff, Dustin Prockish, Dana Johnson, Abboulaye Ba, John Ricciardelli, Brian Johnson, Dwayne Hughes, Paul Klawinski, Chris Harlan, Ed Piepergerdes, Brad Arnold, Eddie Atkinson, Craig Leff, David Evans, Dennis Helt, John Vernickas, Cyndi Hughes, Delfina Ortiz, Dan Doss, Deb Doss, David Wood, Ed Chasteen