CRES amity shaman
Ed's blog and stories: http://hatebusters.wordpress.com/
November 16, 2018Happy Birthday, Ed!
by Leroy Seat, Ph.D, used with permission
Ed Chasteen is a friend I first met over 40 years ago, and tomorrow (Nov. 16) he is celebrating his 83rdbirthday. This article was written to wish Ed a happy birthday. But even more, I have written it to introduce a remarkable man to those who do not know him.
Becoming a Prof
Edgar R. Chasteen was born in Texas and lived in Huntsville from 1948 to 1958. He was baptized in a Baptist church there when he was 13. In 1954 he enrolled in Sam Houston State Teacher’s College and majored in sociology. When he was 21 he married his wife, Bobbie, and they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last year.
After earning his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri, Ed was employed by William Jewell College (in Liberty, Mo.) where he taught sociology, and especially a course in race relations, from 1965 to 1995.
Two matters of great importance occurred during those years when Ed was a prof at William Jewell: he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and a few years later he founded HateBusters.
The “Peddlin’ Prof”
In 1981 Ed received the terrible news that he had MS. The doctors said he could no longer be active. But after two or three years, and against his doctor’s orders, Ed began to fight his illness by riding a bicycle.
And ride he did! In 1987 he rode over 5,100 miles in 105 days, peddling from Disney World to Disneyland. He rode alone and without any money on him—and with great success. Disney dubbed him “the pedalin’ prof from William Jewell College.”
And he has continued to ride his bicycle since then: in 2003 he rode 10,000 miles to raise funds for MS and HateBusters.
In 2004 the National Multiple Sclerosis Society named Ed an MS Achievement Award winner.
It has now been 37 years since he was first diagnosed with MS—and Ed is still active and still rides his bicycle—but earlier this year he had to give up riding outside. He now rides about 50 miles a week inside on his stationary bike.
The HateBusting Prof
About 30 years ago—soon after David Duke, the former imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, won a seat in the Louisiana legislature—Ed and his sociology students at William Jewell College started a group, or perhaps it is better considered a movement, called HateBusters.
The name, and the logo found on their tee shirts, was taken from the popular 1984 film "Ghostbusters." The picture is several years old (taken when he was about 75), but here is a picture of Ed in a HateBuster tee shirt and his personalized bicycle:
HateBusters has primarily worked in opposition to
hate directed toward people because of their race/ethnicity or because
of their religion and in support of those who have been victims of hate.
On Monday of this week, I had breakfast and a delightful conversation with Ed. I was impressed, again, with his mental vitality in spite of his debilitating physical illness and with his deep-seated desire to combat hate and prejudice and to create a world filled with people who live in harmony and practice mutual respect.
Happy Birthday, Ed! The world badly needs more people like you.
For further information:
** Most of Ed’s books are available for downloading at the website linked to above. Some books are directly related to MS and some to HateBusters, including a 1996 book with 42 issues of “HateBusters Bulletin.”
-- Leroy Seat, Ph.D
Think Globally-Act Locally
2017 by Ed Chasteen
Dad took a job with United Gas Company and moved our family to Huntsville, Texas the summer I was 12 years old. A new high school was in the works, and Huntsville Junior High for the next two years became the high school. Thus did a building on the campus of the local teacher's college come to serve as our town's junior high. For grades seven and eight I went there and entered the new high school in the tenth.
The new school was on a corner of two intersecting
residential streets. They were not heavily traveled, but our principal
took his job seriously and did not leave students unaided when walking
to and from school. He called me to his office one day to give me a red
vest, a hand-carried stop sign and told me I was to be the crossing guard,
a title and a function I cherished all through school.
From church during my high school years I had come to have the image of our life together painted in words by Jesus. Against this image and also from the church I had heard the words spoken by some of our leaders, a message distilled for me one Sunday morning as I was leaving church by a single sentence spoken by two deacons to each other. The first one said, “If them niggers try to come in this church, I'll beat 'em back with a baseball bat.” The other said, “Me, too.”
I wandered onto our local college campus with no particular plan. No one in my family had ever been to college. I found myself after after a while walking around in the college bookstore. I scanned the shelves. A book jumped out at me: The Negro in America. I picked it up. Thumbed through. Read the first page. And it hit me! Here was somebody trying to explain intellectually the spiritual and social problem I had encountered at church and in school. I could be a crossing guard again.
I took that book to the woman at the cash register. “What course is this book for?” I asked. “Race Relations.” She said. “What department?” “Sociology,” she said. “That's my major!” I said. That instantaneous selection of a major was confirmed in my mind when I discovered that the Sociology Department was housed in the very same college building where I had gone to junior high.
When my fellowship from the University of Missouri required that I come to Kansas City I was told I could study any topic for a year while I worked to get my PhD. When I discovered that Kansas City had held a public vote in April of 1964 to decide if black people were to be allowed to use public accommodations, my topic was chosen.
I spent a year interviewing people on all sides of the issue. When the year was past and I had my PhD, I joined the Sociology faculty at William Jewell College, teaching Race Relations and involving my students in the daily lives and problems of the friends I had made in Kansas City.
Just a block west of campus stood Second Baptist Church. One Sunday morning in his sermon, Dub Steincross referred to the one square block occupied by our church as, “this little piece of God's good earth.” I loved that image and quickly expanded it to include my college.
I went looking for goodness the summer of 1987. I spent 105 days riding my bicycle from Disney World in Florida to Disneyland in California, by way of Seattle, Washington. By myself. With no money. I found goodness. Everywhere. All the time. Mickey Mouse gave me a trophy. Disney dubbed me “The Pedalin' Prof from William Jewell College”.
I had been back on campus a few weeks when the state of Louisiana elected a member of the KKK to their legislature. My Race Relations students started HateBusters. The Louisiana governor invited us to come help the state redeem itself. We took our bicycles and went. We began to be invited all over the country. Too many places. Too few of us. We needed focus.
On my longest days on my cross country ride I rode 125 miles. So now back in Liberty, I drew a 125-mile circle around our town and called this little piece of God's good earth Greater Liberty, a place going north to Creston, Iowa and south to Carthage, Missouri; west to Manhattan, Kansas and east to Columbia, Missouri.
More than a place, though, Greater Liberty is primarily a principle: We all have Greater Liberty than we know to rise above and beyond all the labels other people apply to us and we uncritically assume, labels that name our race, religion, nation, gender, class, sexual orientation, politics. We have the inherent ability to become World Class Persons, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.
We HateBusters now offer our goods and our services free of charge to all 104 county seat towns in Greater Liberty. Our book, How To Like People Who Are not Like You was called by a reviewer “profoundly simple and simply profound, a formula for building human beings”. To any victim of hate anywhere in Greater Liberty we offer any help they need. We never say no when asked to help. We never ask for money from those who need our help.
I want every mayor, every city manager, every school superintendent, every high school principal, every newspaper editor, every TV or radio station, every Chamber of Commerce, every non-profit in all 104 Greater Liberty county-seat towns to know that HateBusters exists, that we are housed at William Jewell College, that we respond to any act of hate targeting a person's race, religion, sexual orientation or other social characteristic, that we give E-copies of our book, How To Like People Who Are not Like You to all who ask, that we have no dues and no meetings, that we never say no when asked to help and that we never ask for money from those who need our help.
INVITE US AND WE WILL COME
JOIN US AND WE WILL WIN
Chasteen, CRES amity shaman, finds ways to bring people together. After
30 years of teaching, Professor Chasteen left William Jewell in 1995, and
now offices his Hate-Busters organization, begun in 1988, at Central Baptist
Theological Seminary, and with his wife, Bobbie, runs Amity Associates
out of his home.
Ed, also known as the “peddling prof,” has multiple sclerosis which his riding helps keep in check. This challenge made it especially meaningful when Ed was chosen as one of 35 “community heroes” to carry the Olympic torch to Atlanta when it passed through Kansas City in 1996. He was also chosen as a “Community Star” by The Kansas City Star.
In 1976, when Ed was teaching cultural anthropology and race relations, he began the Human Family Reunions, multicultural potluck dinners to celebrate his students’ contacts with human diversity. They have since been held in a dozen other cities, including Tampa, San Antonio, and Sacramento. Ed is shown here at a 1988 Human Family Reunion.
In 2006, he was one of only 200 to attend the White House Conference on Hate Crimes.
His book, How to Like People Who Are Not Like You, has undergone ten editions since it first appeared in 1976.
CRES staff members Vern, David, Ed, and Maggie on Maggie's veranda at an October staff meeting.
I keep my mind on this impossible dream I have to rid the world of hate and teach people to like each other. My age is never a thing I think about. Here's something you would enjoy. Please pass the word to all your friends.
Come all you who hunger and thirst to
We come today with open minds and warm hearts. Who's
right is the wrong
The Human Family Reunion is sponsored by HateBusters,
Barker Temple Church of
Let it never be forgot, that once there was a spot,
Maybe that's enough. Enough to buoy our weary souls
o'er troubled waters and
Bring a dish of your favorite food and come
To tell us you are coming or to get more information
call Ed Chasteen,
The Van Project
(Visiting Area Neighbors)
In a court of law, only those with first-hand knowledge are allowed to testify. But in the court of public opinion, hearsay is often all we have.
by Ed Chasteen
The first day of spring has come as it should. Early morning clouds give way to soft sunlight. The wind gentles during the day to a warm breeze. First buds on flowering trees announce themselves in baby pink. Great expectations dance in all our minds as the 12 of us gather in Gene and Pat Cole’s living room, just a few blocks from Metro North Shopping Center. Sister Marilyn Peot has brought 10 other members of St. Charles Parish: Diane and Greg Smith, Mike and Joyce Rauth-Fears, Sister Aline Mohrhaus, Norbert and Shirley Duello and Glenna Carrol. I will be their driver. Promptly at 8:30 on this glorious morning we board our William Jewell College van. Fewer than 70 miles we will travel. By 6 PM we will return. But, oh, the wondrous day we will have.
First stop, the home of Vern Barnet. Vern is Founder and Director of CRES (Center for Religious Experience and Study), a student and teacher of world religions, a passionate seeker of all that is sacred and all that would enrich our lives together. For half-an-hour in his living room, Vern shares his vision with us. Then Vern comes with us in our Van. All day he will share with us from his vast and compassionate knowledge of every faith as we make our way about Greater Kansas City to four faith communities that are at home here.
The Hindu Temple at 6301 Lackman Road in Shawnee is our second stop. Kris Krishna is our host. After we remove our shoes, Kris ushers us downstairs where Sudha Bathina has prepared a short lecture and overhead transparences on the basics of Hunduism. She answers questions that we have. Members of the Temple have prepared refreshments for us before we go upstairs for a tour of the Temple sanctuary and an explanation of the statuary on display. Their priest describes for us the process by which one becomes a priest. Ananda Bhattacharyya and his wife Dipti are long-time HateBusters supporters and members of the Temple. They have just returned from a three-month visit to India. Ananda is a retired engineer. He also is here today to welcome us and share his knowledge.
At noon we come to the Sikh Gudwara (Temple) at 6834 Pflumm Road in Shawnee, just a short drive from the Hindu Temple. The parking lot is full when we arrive, and people are entering the building. Women and girls wear flowing dresses in all colors of the rainbow. Men and boys wear suits and turbans on their heads. Charanjit Hundal is our host and meets us at the door.
We have arrived just in time for a wedding. We take off our shoes, tie a scarf on our head and enter. Women are seated on the carpeted floor to our left; men to our right. The room is full already, but space is made for us to join the other guests. The ceremony and the songs are all in Punjabi. Those near us do not understand the language, but they know what’s happening. They whisper to some of us so we will know.
After an hour, we adjourn downstairs for a delicious vegetarian Indian meal. The aromas and the spices give an Eastern ambiance. We get our meals and take our places on the floor with beautiful food before us. Charanjit explains that chairs and tables are not used in the gudwara. “Sitting on the floor, we are all equal. No one is elevated above another.” The children made it through the mandated quiet of the wedding. Now their exuberant noises and movement make it hard to hear Charanjit as he explains Sikhism to us. Pat is seated next to him. She hears it all and gives us a near literal recitation when we get to the van and before we leave the parking lot.
It’s one-thirty when we leave. Across Greater Kansas City on Shawnee Mission Parkway, we skirt Country Club Plaza on the south and come to Wornall Road. A left turn brings us three blocks later to 47th Street (AKA Brush Creek and Emanuel Cleaver Blvd.), where we turn right and over to Troost Avenue. Another left and we are quickly at Al-Inshirah Masjid (Mosque), just in time for our two o’clock appointment. Imam (minister) Bilial Muhammed is our host.
We remove our shoes just inside the door and enter the place of worship. Bilial has invited some of his members to join us: Majeeda and Aasim Baheyadeen, Shaeer Akhtab, Robert Rashad, Abdus Sabir Taalib Din Muhammed and Zarrieff Osman. We all seat ourselves in a circle. Others join us as the imam and his members explain Islamic belief and practices to us. As we conclude our discussion and answer period, the men form a line and demonstrate for us the method and meaning of their required daily prayers.
In an adjoining room, the women have prepared refreshments for us, giving us all a few minutes for talk of ordinary things that neighbors might discuss. Then Vern arranges us for another of the photographs he has taken at every stop. Photographs that will appear in the next edition of the CRES newsletter.
Llama Chuck Stanford has just day before yesterday returned from several week’s study in India. Jetlag is still a problem. I had thought we could not visit the Rime Buddhist Center in his absence. I had instead asked Vern to take us on a quick tour of the Nelson-Atkins religious art, a tour he regularly gives. But Vern and Chuck are good friends. They have arranged for Matt Rice, Chairman of the Board at the Rime Buddhist Center, to meet us there at four o’clock for a tour and discussion.
Rime Buddhist Center is located just off I-35 near the 20th Street exit in a former church building. There are several schools of Buddhism. The word “Rime”, pronounced ree-may, indicates that this center does not follow any particular school but is inclusive of them all. Matt leads us through the building, stopping to explain the significance of every object. He invites us to come again at any time to learn more.
By six o’clock we are parked again in the Cole’s driveway, back where we started nine and one-half hours ago. It’s likely that never in our lives have we spent a day immersed in religious thought so seemingly different yet so fundamentally similar. Asking in various ways a similar question—What does God require of me and how should I live? –these faiths have arrived at answers that seem so different. I am reminded when I think of these obvious differences that to the unaided eye the earth seems flat.
All day I have reminded those who travel with me and those we visit that our purpose is to form friendships with people of other faiths. If we know by name people of other faiths we can serve as bridges when troubled waters flow between us. When rumors fly that demean a faith, we can come to our friends for facts we trust. By being friends across faith lines we can help all our faiths not simply to endure one another but to endorse each other.
As monopoly is bad for an economy so also is it bad for a religious faith. In economics monopoly leads always to higher prices for inferior products. With no competition there is no incentive to improve the product and no reason not to raise the price. The same is true in the religious arena. Any one of the world’s religions if given unquestioned authority would produce an inferior product at too great a price. Religious diversity is essential if the full range of human spiritual needs is to be fully satisfied. A free spiritual marketplace benefits each individual faith and should, therefore, be endorsed by followers of every faith.
My chosen profession is Ambassador to Other Communities
of Faith. I am a Christian. A Baptist. I am a faithful member of my local
church. Because my faith is precious to me, I want to meet and know people
of other faiths. I want to visit with them and become a friend. I do not
want to join them or to change them. I want us all to be ourselves and
encourage one another in our faiths. I invite others to join me in this
Comments of those who visited faith communities today
“What an enlightening day, Ed! We so appreciated the thoroughness of your preparation; and your sharing of your philosophy about what brought us together--the key point being to consider how we are alike, rather than how we are different. Like the Hindus, we believe Catholicism is a way of life. With the Sikhs, we believe all men are created equal, there is no caste system. What warm hospitality we received from the Muslims. Their emphasis on frequent communion with God through prayer rings true with us. The Buddhists' emphasis on meditation and its integration in our daily lives is a very important aspect of our Catholic spirituality also. Having Vern Barnet accompany us on each of the visits was just icing on the cake! Thanks again, Ed, and God bless for making this a very special day.”
Shirley & Norbert Duello
in Greater Liberty
2017 from Ed Chasteen
aka Pedalin' Prof
The billboard on campus that summer showed the route I rode on my bicycle from Orlando to Seattle to Anaheim. By myself. With no money/. Looking for goodness. And finding it. Took me 105 days. On my longest days I rode 125 miles. So when I was back I drew a 125 mile circle around our town called Liberty. I dubbed this little piece of God's good earth, Greater Liberty, meaning to call attention to the Greater Liberty we all have to live beyond all the names other people know us by. My hope is to find a friend in every Greater Liberty faith community and to encourage others to come with me.
I propose a class for faith communities located in Greater Liberty. An on-line class, with few, maybe no, actual visits. But! Close enough that should we wish, a visit//visits might easily be arranged. I ask members of Greater Liberty faith communities to contact me on line and sign up for this class. I will then pair you with a member of another faith community. This new identity will be someone of another faith who lives nearby. Let us call this The Greater Liberty Class.
Both members of every pair will hold seven on-line conversations using the seven sets of questions I provide. Each will then write the life story of the one with whom you are paired. The story will be written in first person” “My name is (…...)” Each member of the pair will submit your story to the other for possible additions and/or corrections. And then to me.
After each online conversation, each member of the pair will tell me by email what you learned about the person you are becoming. When the seven conversations have been completed, each member of the pair will write the story of your new identity as you have learned it through the seven sets of questions.
This class will follow the academic calendar: fall semester September-December; spring semester January-April. In May at William Jewell College all pairs will be invited for a Human Family Reunion honoring those who by their work as pairs are now recognized as World Class Persons, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.
Students may sign up for either the fall or the spring semester. The seven sets of questions are designed to be completed in one semester. I know of no better way to deepen and widen one's own faith than by delving into another, and no better way of delving than by spending a few weeks as someone of another faith. One of my very good friends is Yahya Furqan, a Muslim imam. We have traveled the country together. We have visited in each others homes. Yahya says he is a better Muslim because he knows me. I am a better Christian because I know him. Neither of us have even thought of trying to convert the other.
I am now contacting some of my longtime friends in the various faith communities in the area to ask them to help me enlist their folks in this quest to both find friends and build bridges. And to all who may happen to read this letter, I ask you to please join me. Sign up for Greater :Liberty.. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Pedalin’ Prof
BECOMING A WORLD CLASS PERSON
Right Here in Greater Liberty
An Invitation to Seven Conversations
Ed Chasteen, PhD
The Pedalin' Prof from William Jewell College
Ambassador from Second Baptist Church
to Other Communities of Faith
Text and Talk
Our focus is not on books and printed words but on individual persons and their spoken words. I ask only that you read one little book, just 144 pages. The book is called How To Like People Who Are not Like You. A reviewer called this book “profoundly simple and simply profound, a formula for building human beings.” I wrote the book. Download the book free of charge, Just go to www.hatebusters.com .
Our moving closer to World Class Person is built around the seven conversations we will have with the person we are becoming, using the seven sets of questions listed below. After each conversation, you will email to your person and to me the words you have written describing the words your person spoke to you. At the end of week #7 you will email to your person their biography as they have told it to you. You will ask for their approval. When you have it, you will email the completed biography to me.
When our spoken journey ends after four months,
we will gather at William Jewell College for a Human Family Reunion. We
will all meet each other and each of us will be recognized as a World Class
Questions to ask the person you are becoming
You may hold these conversations on line, in person
or by phone. I ask that you talk to one another one to one, with no other
person taking part. I hope you can arrange at least one conversation in
person, just the two of you. I ask that you read How To Like People Who
Are not Like You as background and mind set. An E-copy of the book is available
at no charge to everyone at www.hatebusters.com
Name of parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters.
Where do they all live now?
Where did you grow up?
Where did you go to school?
What are some of your earliest memories?
What was it like growing up?
How would you describe your family?
What is the role of the husband and father?
What is the role of the wife and mother?
What do you like to eat?
What is your very favorite food?
What kind of jobs have you had?
What is your present occupation?
What is your religious faith?
What religious organizations do you belong to?
How often do you participate in activities with these organizations?
Could you tell me what you believe about how your faith relates to other faiths?
Is your faith related in any way to the food you eat?
How important to you is your faith?
How do you think the different religions and races in America relate to each other?
How do you think they should relate to each other?
What are the important days in the year to you?
How do you celebrate the important days in your life?
How would you describe the way you live your life?
What are the important books and other writings that have shaped your life?
What do you hope will happen in your private life over the next three years?
What do you think will happen in the world in the next three years?
What would you say is your greatest fear?
What would you say is your greatest joy?
How would you describe America?
What do you think America’s role in the world should be?
How would you like to be remembered?
What does your faith teach about how we should live our lives?
What does your faith teach about life after death?
Where our minds and hearts have come
These are the words I have said to those who have
lived as another for a few weeks.
Thank you for letting me live as you for these weeks. This is your life as you have told it to me. Each week for seven weeks you have told me about your life and I have emailed you what I wrote. Now that our class is ending and I have completed your biography and emailed it to you, would you please make any corrections and/or additions and give me your permission to email your authorized biography to Ed, our conductor. Then at our Human Family Reunion you and I will meet and both be inducted into the Order of World Class Person.
We human beings are gregarious creatures, meaning that we need to be with other people. We join others in social, civic, religious, political, athletic, artistic, hobby and other groups too numerous and varied to number. We spend time, talent, energy and money in their name. So engrossed in our groups can we become that we come to think that those who are not members with us are bad people. Mutual distrust and suspicion arise between groups, giving rise to chronic tension and causing the smallest misunderstanding to be life threatening.
What the world needs now is a group of people rooted in their own small groups but equipped also with wings, allowing them flight all over the world as invited guests among those whose only shared membership is human being. Such persons we dub World Class Persons, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. None of us ever get completely there. But some move so far in that direction that slower ones look to them for direction.
Together for these weeks we have been traveling
closer to that time when we can go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone
about anything and feel safe. We are becoming World Class Persons. Responsible
now for leading others.
How To Like People Who Are Not Like You
(c) 2009 by Ed Chasteen
The Book in Brief
Chapter 1 Why Bother?
Chapter 2 Learn to Like Yourself
Believe these things
My Life Has Meaning And Purpose
I am unique
I'm as good as anyone
What other people think of me is less important than what I think
My self worth is based on who I am, not what I can do
What I want Is less important than what is good for me
Owning things only seems to make me more attractive
Think about these things
How lucky I am
My strengths and abilities
Other people's problems
Finding peace of mind
Making the most of today
Do These Things
Read good books
Develop a skill
Talk to other people, and listen to what they say
Achieve the proper pressure
Take part in projects designed to help other people
Chapter 3 Step Two--Learning to Like People Who Are Like You
Believe these things
I am a part of my people
I am as valuable to my people as my people are to me
My people's motivations are as proper as my personal motivation
I will get from my people as I give to my people
I will find myself through knowing my people
My people know me as imperfectly as I know my people
My people will be increasingly important to me as I grow older
Think about these things
Finding ways to know your people better
Why your people do what they do
Supporting your people
Who are your people?
How are you and your people alike?
How are you and your people different?
Who tells you how to relate to your people?
Do these things
Volunteer for extra duty
Learn the history and values of your people
Talk it up
Go to bat for your people
Becoming a loving critic of your people
Share your people's fate
Chapter 4 Step Three--Learning to Like People Who Are Not Like You
Believe these things
Their ways make as much sense as mine
But for accident of birth, I could be one of them
Who's right? is the wrong question
I may never agree with them, but I can relate to them
They are as attached to their way as I am to mine
The world would be a poorer place if they did not exist
Only by understanding Them do I come to understand myself
Think about these things
What are the really basic differences between us?
How and when did our differences start?
How am I like them?
Are they as uncertain about how to relate to me?
What is really happening in my encounter with Them?
How will my children and theirs relate to each other?
What does knowing those who are not like me tell me about myself?
Do these things
Learn another language
Visit ethnic communities; attend their place of worship
Eat their foods
Study other cultures
Put yourself in uncomfortable situations
Feel good about not trying to change Them
Don't pretend to understand
Chapter 5 Where To Take the Steps
Your private world
Your public world
The religious arena
The political arena
The social arena
The cultural arena
The world arena
Chapter 6 The Three Step Week
Give us this day
Chapter 7 The Human Family Reunion
The Reunion begins
Does the caged bird sing?
Class provides new life
Appendix: The Three Step Test
Interpretation of responses
Now that you have read the book
World Class Person
Signing up for these Conversations
To participate in these seven conversations send an email to me at email@example.com. Tell me you want to be paired with a person of another faith to hold these seven conversations and write the story of the one with whom you are paired,.
Those who hold the seven conversations and proceed
as described below will achieve the distinction of World Class Person and
will be inducted into the Order of World Class Person at our Human Family
Reunion to be held at William Jewell College in Liberty.
A Message To My Students
from Ed Chasteen
This is what I would say to my class at William
Jewell College as we neared the end of our time together in a class much
like this. Reading it will help you understand who I am and where I hope
to lead us.
Class, I believe that each of you has a spark of genius. I seek to ignite that spark and start a fire. A fire that might warm a cold-hearted world. A fire that might light the way. A fire that draws people out of the dark.
My fictional hero is Don Quixote. Don Quixote says, “Too much sanity may be madness. And the greatest madness of all may be to see the world as it is. And not as it should be.” I see the world as it should be. It should be a place where all people are friends. A place where all people feel safe. If the fact the world is not this way causes me to abandon my vision of a better world, then the bad guys have won already. Evil in the world is all the more reason to want to be a World Class Person, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.
Don Quixote’s friends think he is crazy. They tell him, “Wickedness wears thick armor.” He responds, “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. It’s an effort I must make.
Nightly news and morning headlines that assault my sense of peace and justice goad me to greater effort. If the barbarians are to win, it will not be because I surrendered. I will not become like them in a misguided effort to defeat them. If I am to defeat them, it will be because I took the high road.
Early in Man of LaMancha, Don Quixote comes to an old house beside a dusty road. He thinks he has come to a castle. Inside he meets the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. He falls to his knees. “What is your name, my lady?” He asks. “Off your knees, you fool. My name is Aldonza. And I’m no lady.”
Indeed she is not. This house is a place where mule drivers come for the night. To rest and eat and be entertained. Aldonza waits on them by day. And by night. She is no lady.
“No, my lady, your name is not Aldonza. Your name is Dulcinea.” Don Quixote says. She curses him and throws a dirty dishrag at him. He takes it as a token of her affection. He leaves.
Several times in the story he comes back. Every time he calls her Dulcinea and treats her as a lady. Every time she is angry and unkind to him. Near the end of the story, Don Quixote is dying, delirious and distant from this place. She hears about his condition. She goes to find him. She forces her way into his room. She takes his hand. “My lord,” she says. “Who is it?” He asks. “Why you know who I am. You called me by name and changed my life.” “No, my lady, who is it?” He asks. And she says, “My name is. . . . Dulcinea.” She now sees herself as he has seen her all the time.
And that’s the way I see the world. I will call it Dulcinea until one of two things happens. Either it becomes what I have always seen it to be. Or it does me in. I will always expect to find friends wherever I go. I will always look for that spark of goodness and genius I see in all people. Nothing will ever persuade me that my dream is impossible.
So, dear students, I have invited my friends into our classroom this semester to visit with us about their childhoods and their faith: Assembly of God, Baha’is, Baptists, Buddhists, Catholics, Church of Christ Scientists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, NAINs, Native-Americans, Pagans, Presbyterians, Sikhs, Sufis, Unitarian Universalists, Unitys, Vedantas, Zoroastrians. All of these dear folks live just a few minutes by car from our campus. They are all Americans. They are our neighbors. We all endorse one another. We all share a spiritual quest. By knowing one another and becoming friends, we all become our best selves and most surely find our individual and common purpose.
I long for all of you to become World Class Persons. You have trusted me to lead you in this way. We have completed much of our work together and done it well. In just two weeks comes our Human Family Reunion. All of our classroom visitors will return for a final time with us. Each of you will present to the class a 10-minute version of the autobiography you have prepared as the classroom visitor whose identity you assumed.
As a class our work has been superb. You have done everything I asked of you with enthusiasm, energy, clear thinking, good effort, great reporting. Individually and together, we have gone beyond ourselves. With a ways yet to go and work still to do, we are all on track for the best possible grade. I will not hesitate even for an instant to award A’s to the entire class. Please give me that opportunity by giving me your all during this month of April as we plan and hold our Human Family Reunion, visit our person’s home and place of worship, present our autobiographies and write our final essay.
I will not teach you again. I will remember you and the wondrous things we did together. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep. So do you. Up the road—sometime, somewhere—we may meet again on our journey to World Class Personhood.
I hope so.
Your friend and teacher