Archive for January, 2015

Profoundly Simple and Simply Profound

January 30, 2015

“Simply profound and profoundly simply
a formula for building human beings”
by Ed Chasteen

I awoke this morning before three o’clock with these words and others they prompted running through my mind. I tried till four to make them stop. When they would not, I came in the dark down the hall, through the kitchen, down the stairs, through the laundry room to the PC on the other side of the wall from the washing machine: The place where it all started.
I had only a yellow pad and a pencil those years ago when it all started. At my college on the hill little more than two miles away with my students we would struggle to know how it is that in every place and time pockets of people come to see themselves as special, and thinking thus, establish systems that deny others. When knowing how these things had happened proved not enough and endless cycles of their repetition loomed ahead, we sought a way to a better place for all of us.
Alone in this basement room beside the washing machine with my yellow pad and pencil I spent hours and years putting down on paper the words I hoped might offer a path to this place. When the words I thought were right, I took them to my student secretaries. They typed. They xeroxed. They spiral bound thick bunches of 8.5×11 pages, put on a front and back cover, and we gave a title to what together we had done: How To Like People Who Are not Like You.
Years passed. Changes were made in the words. I got a PC and learned to use it. The size shrank to regular book size. An intriguing cover emerged. The book found its way beyond that race relations class at my college. To describe what he thought of How To Like People Who Are not Like You a reviewer wrote, “Simply profound and profoundly simply, a formula for building human beings”
We formed a student organization we called HateBusters. We traveled the country by invitation from governors, mayors, colleges, universities, churches, synagogues, masjids, civic clubs and ordinary folks. We taught our book. We gave copies to all who asked. We have given thousands.
From the beginning HateBusters promised never to say no when asked to help people learn to like each other and never to ask payment from those who need our help. HateBusters has for years been a 501 C 3 non-profit. All donations are tax deductible. We ask those who like what we do to give us the money we need to help the people who ask for help.
We come now to ask you. From two different groups in the last few days we have been asked for 108 copies of How To Like People Who Are not Like You. I have on hand the eight copies requested by a women’s study group. I have asked our printer here in town to print the 100 copies requested by the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, which will be given to the foreign military officers coming to Kansas City for a conference on March 2nd of this year.
We need to raise $800.00 to cover costs in meeting these requests: printing, postage, travel. If you would like to help go to our website, http://www.hatebusters.com
click on DONATE and using PayPal make your donation. Those who prefer checks: HateBusters, Inc., Box 442, Liberty, MO 64069. All who donate will receive an online copy of How To Like People Who Are not Like You.
It’s now 6:23 in the morning. My two-fingered pecking has produced these words. I’m going back to bed.

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Greater Liberty

January 29, 2015

Greater Liberty

by Ed Chasteen

the Pedalin’ Prof from William Jewell College

A former pastor had a favorite phrase for the one square block in our town where stands our church: “This little piece of God’s good earth.” He called it. At our college just a block east of our church, I for years taught Race Relations, where my students and I would regularly assume the identities of folks of other colors, cultures and creeds, our hope being that we might better understand how they see the world and why, thus seeing, they act. As we in my church and at my college sought ways and reasons for bridging the spiritual and social chasms that seem to separate people, my notion of “This little piece of God’s good earth,” began to expand.

And that expansion took on another name. I came to this town that is home to my church and my college straight from grad school, a town called Liberty. Thus my chosen name for this little piece of God’s good earth: Greater Liberty.

When one day in our town a doctor said to me, “You have a damnable disease and can’t be active,” friends in our town encouraged me to test that prognosis. Get on your bicycle, alone and without money, in Orlando. Ride northwest to Seattle, then south to Anaheim: 5,126 miles in 105 days from Disney World to Disneyland.

When that time had passed and Mickey Mouse had given me a trophy and Disney had named me, “The Pedalin’ Prof from William Jewell College,” the Governor of Louisiana invited my students and me to come help his state. A member of the KKK had just been elected to their state legislature. From that invitation came a group my students christened HateBusters. A song and a movie called Ghost Busters was the rage at the time; two students reworked the lyrics and created our theme song.

After our trip to Louisiana, we began to be invited all over the country by governors, mayors, universities, colleges, schools, civic clubs, police departments, prisons, private citizens. We were doing too much, spreading ourselves too thin, diluting our effectiveness. We liked being small in number, having time to enjoy life’s quieter moments, living along the road less traveled.

On my cross county bike ride I had ridden 125 miles on my very best days. So I asked the Gallup Map folks to draw a 125-mile circle around our town, an area going north to Creston, Iowa and south to Carthage, Missouri; east to Columbia, Missouri and west to Manhattan, Kansas. This is now the little piece of God’s good earth I think of as Greater Liberty. And this is now where we HateBusters focus our efforts to teach people how to like people and why we all should immediately and visibly oppose hate when it appears among us.

My church years ago appointed me Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith, and when I left my college to devote my time to HateBusters, now a 501 C-3, non-profit, my college appointed me Professor Emeritus and asks me now and then to teach a class and be of service in other ways.

Out and about on my bike in Greater Liberty, the place, I practice Greater Liberty, the principle. This is that principle: We all have Greater Liberty than we ever will know to rise above and live beyond all the limits imposed upon us by the names we are given. We can become World Class Persons, able to go anywhere at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. We are more than our age, our gender, our race, our religion, our social class, our nationality, our politics, our sexual orientation. Every person on the planet is precious.

The knowledge we all need in our little piece of God’s good earth is to know that until we know each other, who is right is the wrong question. The job, then, that we are called to perform is to endorse our differences. Having realized that our diversity informs our collective genius, that we all would be less if any part were missing, we celebrate together those distinctives that give our life together its flavor.

Though we can’t all live in Greater Liberty, the place, more of us could live by the principle.

An online copy of our book, How To Like People Who Are not Like You is free to those who send an email request to hatebuster@aol.com. Print copies are available for a donation of $10 for each book to those who go to http://www.greateliberty.org or http://www.hatebusters.com click on DONATE and use PayPal. Donations cover print and postage costs and help HateBusters help folks hurt by hate.