June 24, 2017

Farewell Forever Eleanor

6-21-17

by Ed Chasteen

Simon Fink and Under the Big Oak Tree came last on this first day of summer. Gathered inside the library on Brown Street here in Liberty, Simon sang and played the song he had written, the above title inspired by the final three words in an Alfred Lord Tennyson poem he had once read but could never find again, making even more mysterious the hold on him of three words he must never have read.

Earlier in the day Tom Riggs stood on the porch where Glen Edwards once lived, the corner house at Leonard and Franklin, to play his guitar and sing plaintive, heart-rending songs, one about his dad, his moral compass; one about Texas, making me smile at the mention of “42”, a domino game large in my life as I grew to be a man. In Texas.

On this first day of summer, Liberty has joined with 750 other cities and towns across the globe for Make Music Day. Bill Stillfield grew up in Liberty and moved away to California to make music and started a record company. Now living back in his hometown as our pied piper, Bill has organized again this year as he did last, legions of local folks needed on stage and behind the scenes to make music both visible and vocal in our town. From morning to night our churches, homes, parks, businesses, and our newly minted downtown streets draw singers and players and pockets of people to listen for a time and be taken to a place above and beyond the daily dimensions of our lives where poets and prophets live.

With its big yellow umbrellas shading round black metal tables and its clubhouse dispensing food, Rotary Park at the northwest corner of Gallatin and Franklin is the day-long venue for a succession of music groups. The Liberty Rotary Club holds its regular luncheon meeting here today, and as they lunch, listen to the band scheduled for the noon hour.

Dub Steincross is a longtime Liberty Rotarian, and, until his retirement, pastor of Second Baptist Church, where I was fascinated by his description of the one square block on which our church stands as “this little piece of God’s good earth”. Dub is here today. And we talk for the first time in far-too long-a-time. Though he lives not far away, it is in another town, and our paths seldom cross.

Before returning to Harold and Gwen’s house on Jewell Street where this morning accordions played polkas and tonight the Ukaladies perform, the seniors from Second Baptist retire to the Fish Market at five o’clock for dinner, hosted by Jason Edwards. Jason came to Liberty from Texas some eight years back as our pastor at Second Baptist. It was another Glen Edwards who was Jason’s father, though now Jason’s church owns the house where Tom performs today, the church where Tom’s dad long ago was a minister.

With music as our vehicle of deliverance, we are, on this longest daylight of the year, able to spy a world more as it should be than it actually is, and will, when the sun goes down, too soon come back.

And await next year’s Make Muaic Day: June 21, 2018.

June 21, 2017

HATEBUSTERS BULLETIN #7

STICKS AND STONES AND PORCELAIN PEOPLE

Copyright 1996 by Ed Chasteen

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” So said we all about sticks and stones and words when we were small. Before we had lived long enough to know that from sticks and stones we would recover. But from words? Never! With the weight of giant boulders the smallest word cruelly used mortally wounds our inner selves, crushing our spirit and soul. Expunging joy and spontaneity and trust. Leaving us hollow. Mannequin-like, then,we live. If only existence can be called life.

Not being smart enough ever to glimpse the relationship between those corrosive and volatile words showered upon us and their wilting effect upon our moral and ethical character, we stumble through life as quarry slaves at night, scourged to our dungeon. Having seldom heard an encouraging and loving word, we can hardly even imagine what would have been their outcome in our lives if daily bestowed upon us .No phrase seems better suited to describe such an unthinkable condition than “shock therapy.”

So conditioned have we been from long years of living in a hostile verbal environment that all who would remind us we could choose to do otherwise are called dreamers, said to be naive, and not taken seriously.

We who live “in the real world” know that others are out always to show us up or put us down. By the questions they ask and the comments they make, others intend to show that they have better minds or bigger hearts. Other people always have hidden agendas which ill serve us. So long have we lived with such expectations that we come to expect such treatment from everyone. All our relationships have been poisoned by mean words so that after a while we can no longer hear loving ones.

Imagine now that you and every person you meet is a porcelain vase. Porcelain has two primary characteristics: it is beautiful and it is delicate. It breaks easily, and when it breaks, it flies to pieces.

Imagine further that every porcelain vase is filled with nitroglycerin. Nitro has two primary characteristics: it is unstable and it produces a giant explosion when upset.

Now if every person is a porcelain vase filled with nitroglycerin,we would be smart to be very careful. If we should upset one of those vases, a giant explosion would kill them. And us.

Now imagine this. Imagine that we are not imagining.We really are porcelain vases. We really are filled with nitro. An unkind word, a dirty look, a racial slur, an insult, a put-down, any of these can upset us, can trigger our nitro. And we explode!

You may be saying to yourself that I am being overly dramatic. You may be thinking that people often get upset with no deadly aftermath. That’s true only in the short-run. Not all porcelain has the same breaking point. Some break the very first time. But those who don’t are made more vulnerable, and when they finally blow, that first upset is as much to blame as that last one. Cumulative insults eventually produce an explosion. And it may just be the case that repeated insults increase exponentially the destructive power of that explosion.

The only safe course of action is never–not even once–to upset one of these porcelain-nitro people. Our goal in life is never to crack the porcelain and set off the nitro. But that’s the negative statement of our life’s ambition. Put positively, our goal is to becomeWorld Class Persons, able to go anywhere at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. None of us is likely to fully becomeWorld Class, but any of us can move in that direction. And as we move up that road, we meet others going our way. Their stories and example will inspire and encourage us and help us go farther than we could alone.

Let us move daily toward World Class status. And as we go, we journey always with the porcelain-nitro people. Caution is always in order. So is all deliberate speed, for with our eyes on the prize, ain’t nobody gonna turn us around. Our life’s ambition is now to polish and protect that precious porcelain and to neutralize the nitro by creating such a benign environment that never does a flash point occur.

HateBusters Bulletin is a publication of HateBusters, Inc. Box 442, Liberty,

Missouri 64069, phone 816 803-8371: e-mail: hatebuster@aol.com

June 11, 2017

A Baptist Church and a Catholic College

2017 by Ed Chasteen

“Simply profound and profoundly simple: a formla for building human beings. That’s what an early reviewer of our HateBusters book said. Our book is called, How To Like People Who Are not Like You.

Our book is not for sale. We give it away. Anyone can download an E-copy by pressing Ctrl click on www.hatebusters.com

Even today some folks prefer to read a book rather than a computer, a tablet an I-phone or some other device. So HateBusters goes to Pittman Printing just up the street from my home, our HateBusters Headquarters, and asks Kenan and Hank to print a thousand books. When I have given these thousand away to folks who ask for them, I begin again.

I had recently given all our books away when a Baptist Chuch in Georgia and a Catholic College in Iowa asked for copies. Back to Kenan I went. Years ago when we started doing this and needed a cover for our book, I asked Kenan if she would make the cover. It’s a marvelous depiction of the theme of the book.

I picked up the first 25 copies of this most recent run a few weeks ago and mailed them to the pastor of the Georgia church. Then just yesterday over breakfast with the college professor from Iowa, I gave him a box of 36 books.

I know how weird and counter-intuitive it seems to give our books away. And not only books. We never say no when asked to help where hate has come to hurt. We work for free. We never ask those who need help for money.

We have expenses. Bills to pay. But I cannot quit thinking of something that happened to me one summer, 30 years ago now.

I was riding my bicycle from Orlando to Seattle to Anaheim all by myself and with no money,asking for exactly what I needed (a drink of water, a sandwich, a bed for the night) at exactly the time I needed it. No one ever said no. Occasionally someone would give me money. A few mornings I woke up with money in my pocket and a feeling I couldn’t pin down that something was not right. I began to questioin myself. What is different? What has changed? Well, I had some money. Was that the problem? Only one way to find out. The next ttime I was given money rather than a meal, I left the whole $20.00 to cover the $9.95 cost. Broke again the next morning, I had to explain myself to everybody I met to make it through the day. I felt great, and that nagging doubt never returned.

Money was the problem. With it I had no need to talk to everyone I met. You and I are meeting now in cyberspace, in virtual reality. I would prefer to sit with you over breakfast in your favorite cafe in your town and tell you my need. I would say, “Hello, my name is Ed Chasteen. My students and I at my college started HateBusters. We help people hurt by hate. We teach people how to like people who are not like them.

I have come to explain my need. I need to raise $4,000 to pay for the 1,000 copies and the mailing expense.”

Ctrl click on www.hatebusters.com and click on donate. Please donate using PayPal. Any amount will help and be appreciated. Or mail your check to HateBusters, Box 442, Liberty, MO 64069.

I will keep you posted as we give our book away. Please request books if you know a need they might address.

June 9, 2017

A Camelot Evening

2017 by Ed Chasteen

Park, Avila, KU Med, KCU, MCC and William Jewell: one person from each seated at a dining table for a late dinner on an early June Thursday evening in a family home. Not planned as a gathering of academics, this post Ramadan dinner hosted by a Muslim family is discovered as we talk to be one.

Math, Education, spinal cord injury, biochemistry, student services and sociology: the specialties in order of the six campus representatives mentioned above, who by name are Dincer Guler, Nilufer Guler, Dora Agbas, Baki Agbas, Brian Chasteen, Ed Chasteen.

Dincer lived in Bulgaria until he was 14, when with his parents, he moved back to their native Turkey. He later came to Ohio State to get his PhD and joined the mathematics faculty at Park University seven years ago.

Nilufer is teaching on line education courses for Avila this summer. With two young sons, she can work from home. Nil has prepared the gorgeous dinner awaiting as we sit to eat just as a signal sounds the setting of the sun. Before sunrise comes breakfast. After sunset comes dinner. Fasting between the two for the month of Ramadan. Determined by the lunar calendar, the time of Ramadan varies by eleven days each year, moving it through the seasons as the years go by.

Dincer and Nilufer are our hosts. They have invited us to join with them and their two young sons for the good dinner that breaks their fast that will resume when the sun comes up and continue until the 30 days that began in late May end in June, some days hence.

Brian and I are the first to arrive. He had driven from Penn Valley after his day advising students, directly to our house in Liberty. He grew up in this house, but now married, lives in Lee’s Summit. Dincer opens the door when we come. We remove our shoes. Dincer puts them into the nearby closet with his. Dora comes soon; then Baki, after he parks the car.

The lush vibrant colors in the salad standout even though all the meal would be at home in a Michelin five star restaurant, prompting Dincer to say that he has grown all the salad in his backyard garden. When he mentions fresh garlic as an ingredient, Dora is effusive in her praise. Dincer lights up and rushes out to get her a fresh garlic plant. “He loves to garden,” Nil says to all of us as he is briefly gone.

Eyyup Esen is from Turkey, got his PhD from KU and is now Director of The Dialogue Institute of the Southwest, headquartered in Kansas City. Eyyup arranged for me to be invited to a post-Ramadan dinner with a Muslim family some time back. Tonight with the Guler family is my third, each time bringing one other guest with me; first, Les Weirich, a fellow member of Second Baptist Church in Liberty; second, Tom Dunn, a Baptist preacher friend currently between churches and now attending Second Baptist; third, my son, Brian.

I want my children, as I want my church, to be at home with all people. Tonight is a brief shining moment that brings to my mind another such moment in time when Camelot was on stage and these lines were spoken: “Let it never be forgot, that once there was a spot, known as Camelot.”

With terror abroad in the land and suspicion rampant, quiet times such as tonight get too little notice. Just maybe though if we do not grow calloused and give in to despair, quiet times such as these may buoy us o’er troubled waters to harbor in a haven of peace and delight. Maybe Simple Gifts can bring us round right and land us in the valley of peace and delight, as the old Shaker hymn promises.

June 2, 2017

Once Around the Square

2017 by Ed Chasteen

Years ago when HateBusters was a class project and my office was on campus, I would ride this route on my bicycle from my home: up the hill on Natchez to Southview; left on Southview to Leonard; north on Leonard to Mill; left on Mill to Water, past Kansas to Franklin; left on Franklin to Main; left on Main to Kansas; left on Kansas, past the Clay County Courthouse. Once around the square! To see that all is as it should be in our town. To feel the presence of Norman Rockwell and Grover’s Corner. Then up Kansas to campus.

Then when HateBusters became a 501 c-3 non-profit and I took my computer home, I did not want to bring folks down the stairs and through the laundry room to my study. Highway 152 brings visitors from Kansas City directly to campus, becoming Kansas Street along the way. So an office on Kansas Street I sought. Just a half-block shy of the Courthouse and on the same side of the street at 12 W. Kansas is a space that has been home in my time to three local cafes: Fork & Spoon, then K-Street Bistro and now Ginger Sue’s. The first one I frequented often when my office was on campus, The second served me now and then until it closed. Then some ten years ago came this place “where friends come to eat”. I came! And love at first sight came with me.

The high table just inside the door at Ginger Sue’s seats four, though I prefer that only one other person at a time join me for breakfast. Anytime from 6:30 until 8:30 in the morning I like to invite one other person to join me. One to one and in person. A time too short. But well spent. The quickest and deepest route to lasting friendship. Where comfort food served on the plate, though marvelous, is not the main attraction.

This table in this place every weekday morning, Monday through Friday, is my HateBusters office. My mobile office moves by bicycle for Saturday breakfast to one of a dozen cafes in one of a dozen small towns some 15-25 miles from our town called Liberty. The Greater Liberty Inner Sanctum is the collective name we have given these good places.

Then on Sunday morning my office moves just up Kansas Street to the big red brick building on the same side of the street as Ginger Sue’s and known to many who go there as 2BC and to all as Second Baptist Church. Here I serve as Ambassador To Other Communities of Faith and regularly take our folks to visit other faiths and bring other faiths to visit our folks, understanding always that our purpose in our coming and going is never to change or to join but to make friends.

By the locomotion of your choice, I invite you to my office any morning of the week: M-F at Ginger Sue’s; Saturday at another inner sanctum*; Sunday at 2BC.

* to know which inner sanctum any Saturday, email me at hatebuster@aol.com