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December 6, 2018

The Radio’s On

By Ed Chasteen

 

Today is Thursday, December 6, 2018, a little after 10 o’clock in the morning. My car radio is set to NPR 89.3 and comes on when I turn the key. Light snow is falling. I’m wearing my bright-red toasty-warm Chiefs jacket over my bright-yellow HateBusters T-shirt. I’m on my way to Pony Express Bank to deposit two checks written by local folks as donations; one with a sticky note: “Thank you for the important work you do.”

The Kansas City host of the local program is interviewing a professor from Haskell University in Lawrence and a psychologist from New York. The local host has prefaced the questions she asks her guests by saying that the Chiefs this year will not be eligible for an award they won last year. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will no longer present its Humanitarian Award to teams with names like Chiefs and Redskins.

The professor describes the harm done to college students when non-Indians appropriate Indian identity in stereotypical and mocking form. The psychologist cites the negative self-images young Indian children internalize.

I have now driven my fire engine red PT Cruiser HateBuster Mobile, (license # H8BSTR) the two and a half miles from my home and sit in the bank’s parking lot. After I go inside and deposit the checks, Ill drive up to campus at William Jewell and pay for the signs we had made and the refreshments we enjoyed at our college-based Human Family Reunion just two days ago.

But I can’t muster the strength to open my car door and step outside. For weeks now I’ve dressed as I am dressed today. I dressed this way for our Human Family Reunion. I had the radio on then. What if I had heard then what I just heard. At the very least, I would’ve been late to the Reunion.

As I’m late now to the bank. Five miles and an hour later, I walk into the bank wearing an old jacket I found in the back of my closet. Where the Chiefs jacket will hang until I figure out what to do with it.

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December 6, 2018

The Morning before the Evening of Our Human Family Reunion

12-4-18 by Ed Chasteen

 

As she brings my apple-cinnamon pancake and sugar-free syrup, Stephanie asks what I’m doing today. “Well, 12 hours from now, just four blocks up the street, we’re having our Human Family Reunion. Been doing them since 1976. Tonight we hear from the four couples paired across faith lines for the past few weeks. I’ve invited hundreds of folks, but I never have any idea how many will come. Never do.”

But the 90 minutes we spend will, as always, be remembered by all as a Camelot moment: “Let it never be forgot, that one there was a spot, for one brief shining moment, known as Camelot.”

I awoke this morning a little later than usual. It’s near seven o’clock when I get to Ginger Sue’s. Few people are in the place at this early hour. But I see all the tables filled and folks waiting to be seated. These folk do not place an order or pay a bill or be shown to a table. They occupy only mental space in my head. I wonder if the people actually at tables see a different crowd.

Here at 12 W. Kansas for breakfast, this street will take me later today past our county court house, city hall, Second Baptist Church and two blocks past to what was, when I joined the faculty fifty-three years ago, the entrance to William Jewell College. Kansas Street ends now at college edge, diverting traffic to the right one block to Mill Street, where a left and then another left at the fountain brings all who come onto campus.

Tom Field was President of William Jewell when the first Human Family Reunion met beneath the giant tree in his front yard. A brass band from Runkel, West Germany joined drummers and singers from Haskell Indian Junior College. Father Milan Bajich brought greetings from the Serbian Orthodox Church.

At the end of every semester from 1976 until 1995, we held a HFR, either on campus or in one of the ethnic communities where students from my race relations or cultural anthropology classes work worked.

I left the college in 1995 to make HateBusters, started in 1988 as a class project, into a 501c-3 non-profit, and for a few years we did not hold Human Family Reunions. When after a few years HateBusters’ reason for being and method of operation had been established, the HFR reappeared.

For the past two years we have paired members of Second Baptist Church, staff and faculty of WJC, members of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and the Greater Liberty Riders for a period of one semester. These folks are paired across faith lines and asked to hold seven online conversations using the seven sets of questions I developed in my race relations and cultural anthropology classes.

All members of every pair live close by. They are neighbors who have probably never met. They are not asked to meet during their time of being paired. UNTIL Now. On the last Tuesday evening.

Thus we come to this evening: Tuesday, December 4, 2018, from 7:30 until 9 o’clock at William Jewell College. Four couples have been paired for this fall semester. They come tonight to tell the life story of their pair. In three minutes each member of every pair will summarize the life of their pair as they have learned it from the online questions.

Some 100 pairs have spoken at previous HFRs. They have been invited this evening to come again. Those who might want to be paired in the future are welcome and have been invited. Then anyone and everyone is invited.

I want to meet every person I can and expect to like every person I meet. I want to be a World Class Person, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. I want this for every person on the planet.

Here on this little piece of God’s good earth we call Greater Liberty, we think globally and act locally. All who come to our Human Family Reunion and give us their email address, will get by email a certificate declaring them to be a World Class Person, explaining the rights, privileges and obligations of this needed status.

 

The Morning after the Evening of Our Human Family Reunion

12-5-18

 

Mehmet doesn’t like to drive. After his day teaching English in downtown Kansas City to high-energy teens he is bone tired and doesn’t feel like driving to Liberty from his Raytown home. But he does, with his wife Sharifa. They are the first to arrive, 30 minutes early for our Human Family Reunion at William Jewell College. With a smile, he explains: “Ed kept sending all those emails. I had to come.”

Collectively the four paired couples this semester come from these faiths: Atheist, Baha’i, Baptist, inactive Christian, Mormon, Muslim.

This evening Rinne comes first as Karen, her pair; then Karen as Rinne. Then Rex, Karen’s husband, as David, Rinne’s husband. Fourth comes David as Rex. None of the four have ever met in person until tonight, but each has learned much from careful exchange of the seven sets of online questions. The stories they tell are factual, gripping, intimate, seldom told, revealing. Meant only for those in this room. Meaningless, maybe hurtful if partially and somewhat impersonally told in other settings to other hearers.

No clichés. No filler. No small talk. A one-time glance at the agony and ecstasy of real people, more real to us now than a few minutes before. Because we have been allowed behind the curtain, there comes over the room a sense of belonging too rare in our disparate lives.

The Baptist couple paired with Mehmet and Sharifa could not be here tonight, so these two tell about themselves. They are Muslim. Originally from Turkey, they came to the U.S. a few months ago from Nigeria, where they had lived and worked for a while. Now with green cards, they will live and work here for a time. When and where they go from here, these world travelers will find a welcome and make a contribution. That they took the trouble to come to us this evening we count as an unmerited good favor.

Some folks are here tonight who were paired previously. Ed Piepergerdes was paired with Ahmet San, Pam Piepergerdes with Melike San, Dan Mack with Brijpal Singh, and Jeff Buscher with Eyyup Esen These folks all spoke at earlier Human Family Reunions. Pam, Ed, Dan and Jeff recount for us tonight some highlights of their time as a pair.

Eun Dobbins was once paired with Sandy Goodpasture. Both were born in other countries. Both now belong to the same Baptist church but did not know each other. Eun is here tonight and brings us up to date on her life, prompting Pam, who lives on a farm near Exce

lsior Springs, to remember her from years ago when they sang together in a regional choir.

Jean Watts and her married daughter, Sandy Kitahara have come. They live in Liberty and are longtime friends.  Jean’s husband, Bob, built the bicycle I rode across the country. Jean and Bob flew to Atlanta and rode their tandem to Nashville with me. They flew again to Missoula and rode to Spokane with me. Sandy’s son used to come from Chicago to ride his bike on country roads with me. He is married now and lives in Los Angeles.

Bob picked up all the checks when the three of us rode cross country. We had long talks. He knew I couldn’t handle death and dying and chose to be a teacher rather than a preacher. When he knew he was dying and Bobbie and I visited his hospital room, she said to me as we left: “You want believe what Bob wants you to do. Then a pause: “Preach his funeral.” “He’s getting even with me,” I said. With much help, I did as Bob asked. The hardest thing I ever did.

Rhonda has come from her home in Kearney as she has before to make sure that everyone gets signed in and writes down their email address so I can send them these stories (Look for another email ASAP Mehmet.)

Asa Mpuan is a sophomore pre-med student at William Jewell College from Ghana, where his father is a pastor and is here tonight with Jeff Buscher, our college chaplain, helping Jeff ferry our Reunion guests from the parking lot.

Dan is accompanied tonight by Chenya Huang. After we end our time together promptly as promised at 9 o’clock, I remember that I have not called on her to say a few words. She meets my stumbling apology with a beaming smile. I think she is relived. At least, that’s how I choose to interpret her message.

Everyone here tonight for our Human Family Reunion, just by choosing to spend these 90 minutes together, has demonstrated a capacity for World Class Personhood and will receive soon by E-mail a document recognizing them as a World Class Person, able now more than before to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.

We begin our spring 2019 Pairs Project on Tuesday, January 15 and end with our Spring 2019 Human Family Reunion on Tuesday, April 30 from 7:30-9:00 in the evening at William Jewell College.

 

Present for the fall 2018 HFR: Mehmet Vural, Sharifa Vural, Rinne Wood, David Wood, Chenya Huang, Asa Mpuan, Sandy Kitahara, Jean Watts, Dan Mack, Ed Piepergerdes, Pam Piepergerdes, Eun Dobbins, Karen Block, Rex Block, Rhonda Ferguson, Ed Chasteen. Several folks sent email regrets. Many folks are with us in spirit, a casualty of too many good things and too little time.

Kiki Strecker of Fresh Ideas Food Service, Christy, her assistant, and Jeff Buscher, our college chaplain, helped make this Human Family Reunion a Camelot Moment that reverberates around the world.

invited hundreds

planned for 50

expected 20

sixteen attended

A SMASHING SUCCESS

A CAMELOT MOMENT

Numbers reflect a pale image

 

 

 

 

My Written Words as We Leave

 

Lure of the Easy Way

2018 by Ed Chasteen

 

Easy is safe. And comfortable. That’s its attraction. And the heart of the problem. No growth is possible. While the immediate problem may be seemingly and temporarily solved, the easy solution becomes in time the problem.

Easy is short-sighted, dealing more with symptom than cause. Easy seems to do more than it really does. Easy is cheap and fast, hence its appeal.

Easy is a way-station. An oasis. An eventual mirage. Lasting sometimes more than a lifetime, easy appeals at the ballot box and in the board room.

Easy is safer and more comfortable than far-sightedness and long range planning. But the easy way out is seldom the proper exit. Prophets see at great distance. Profit comes in the short term.

Therein lies the human dilemma.

 

November 21, 2018

HateBusters

Teaching People How To Like People

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

www.greaterliberty.org         www.hatebusters.com

https://hatebusters.wordpress.com

 

November 20, 2018

 

Living in a town called Liberty as Mr. Houston and I do, we inherit special obligations to one another and to the others who live here. Mr. Houston is black. I am white. We have never met. I’m a friend of his neighbor. This is what that neighbor told me. Mr. Houston was arrested by Liberty police. Mr. Houston says that he was abused by those police.

I have no way of knowing how to judge Mr. Houston’s claim, but fairness requires that in a place called Liberty we do all in our power to find the truth. So HateBusters hired a lawyer for Mr. Houston. Mr. Houston and Liberty police are each entitled to have the public know what happened.

I asked lawyers who live and work in Liberty to help us find a local lawyer with the proper expertise. The Legal-Aid lawyer who might be assigned to Mr. Houston would be over worked and underpaid and, thereby, not able to devote the necessary time and attention.

To protect and even enhance Liberty’s reputation as a good place to live, every citizen deserves to know that his word is given weight and will be fairly judged in the court of law and the court of public opinion.

HateBusters never have much money. But we hired a lawyer for Mr. Houston, and committed more money than we currently have. I know it will come. It always does. If you wish to donate to this cause of transparency and fairness in our town, make your check to HateBusters, Box 442, Liberty, MO 64068. Or you may give online through PayPal. HateBusters is a 501 C-3 non-profit. All donations are tax deductible.

Thanks. I’ll keep you posted. When more than we need for this task has been given, the other money will allow HateBusters to continue to offer our goods and services free of charge to all folks who live and work in Greater Liberty, an area going out 125-miles in all directions from our town: north to Creston, Iowa and south to Carthage, Missouri; west to Manhattan, Kansas and east to Columbia, Missouri. We respond to any act of Hate that targets any person’s race, religion, gender or sexual preference. We call the victim and ask their need. We provide that need. Free of charge.

To prevent hate in Greater Liberty we teach our book, How to Like People Who Are not Like You in schools, churches, colleges, universities, Civic clubs, homes. Anywhere. Everywhere. Free of charge.

All made possible by your generosity.

 

 

Ed Chasteen,

HateBusters Founder and President

November 10, 2018

Being Warm at Mill Inn

11-10-18

By Ed Chasteen

 

First of the season it was yesterday when it came, the snow is gone this morning without a trace. Crystalline-white puffs of white had drifted down on a fairy like array of fall-covered leafs, cocooning us in fragile beauty too soon gone, leaving behind a quickly descending bone-numbing cold beneath a cloudless blue sky.

Chris comes first. Rode from home over near Penguin Park. John drives up. Then Jay. On his bike. Chris and Jay ride off at 8 o’clock, headed for Mill Inn. John drives home. He will meet us at Mill Inn a little after 9 o’clock.

Every November since before this century began we have celebrated my birthday with a Saturday breakfast at Mill Inn. Evelyn, Marie, Vicki, and Deborah have been here for all this time to welcome us. We always let them know when we’re coming. They always bake a cake. I was late this year letting them know when exactly we were coming. So I told them I would understand if there were no cake.

I follow the two riders. Driving SAG, I’m in my HateBuster Mobile. But in the cold I’ve not attached the blinking yellow light on top or the RIDERS AHEAD magnetic sign on the back. I did remember to put the tool kit with bike repair stuff in my car.

We pull together two big tables and take over a nearby third for the 18 of us who all arrive soon after 9 o’clock. Matt had joined the other two on the road about halfway between Liberty and Excelsior Springs. Matt lives in Excelsior Springs and rode out from home to ride in with us. Matt is working in Memphis, Tennessee, helping put up an Amazon Distribution Center and is home for a few days. Sharri, his wife, and Darien, his daughter, come to breakfast with us.

Ed Piepergerdes and wife, Pam, have come. Ed has a bacon covered ice cream float for Delfina, result of an inside joke later explained to all of us.

Before our food comes, I ask for everyone’s attention to quickly describe the Pairs Project and invite them to participate. “Each January and September I pair folks one to one across faith lines for 13 weeks to hold seven online conversations using seven sets of questions I provide. On the last Tuesday evening from 7:30-9:00, we hold a Human Family Reunion at William Jewell College. Each member of the pair comes and takes three minutes to tell the life story of the one to whom they are paired, using the information obtained in the online questions. Our next Reunion is Tuesday evening December 4 this year. Everyone who has been paired, is now paired or thinks you might in the future be paired is invited to come.

Ed and Pam were paired in the spring of this year with a Muslim couple. Dave and Rinne Wood are paired this semester with a Baha’i couple. Dan Mack, a rider not present this morning, was paired this spring with a member of the Sikh Gurdwara.

We have finished eating and about to go around the table, hearing a short story from everybody when Evelyn and Deborah appear with cake. Two kinds. More than enough for everyone to have more than one. I do.  “Hey, folks, this is Evelyn. She owns this place,” I announce. “I should have known I couldn’t be too late.”

Kim is here on crutches. Just this Thursday she had a mishap on a trampoline. Husband Roger is with her.

Present today: Jay Smith, Pam Piepergerdes, Rinne Wood, Graham Houston, Ed Piepergerdes, Jason Swan, Terry Clark, Chris Harlan, Delfina Ortiz, Matt Farwell, Sharri Farwell, Darien Farwell, Kim Siegel, Roger Siegel, John Vernickas, Mike Nason, Ed Chasteen

 

November 9, 2018

What Happened to You and Me?

Reflections of a Former English Teacher

2018 by Ed Chasteen

 

“I” is never the object of a preposition. I learned and taught this as a rule of proper English. He hit you and me. She looked up to you and me. Both correct by the rule. He hit you and I. She looked up to you and I. Both incorrect by the rule. But increasingly seen and heard. In print. And conversation.

By what rule? Free form language? The canary in the coal mine? Harbinger of what’s to come? An emerging new English when the present becomes the past? An issue hardly worth considering when pressing problems loom. But offering a thoughtful diversion

Whether a sign of grammatical malpractice, a teaching-learning failure or a conversational culture shift, it does grate on older ears, birthing one more generational divide to be bridged.

The sentence fragments populating this short piece also were taboo when “I” could not be an object.