August 26, 1932 ~ June 1, 2015
Long time HoU member John Chesley died of natural causes at his Taylorsville home. He was one of most regular attendees for many years, often arriving in one of his custom restored classic cars, at least in nice weather.
Long before he had heard of humanism, John Chesley was a humanist: independent thinker, committed to ethics, and respectful of human dignity. His humanism manifested itself one day in church, and yet there was little in his background to indicate that he would react as he did.
A native Salt Laker, he went to Douglas Elementary, Roosevelt Junior High, and East and South High Schools. He married and went to work at Hill Air Force Base where he developed his expertise in supplies, ensuring that not only Hill but other military bases had the right supplies at the right time. Hercules hired him for his expertise ten years later at its Bacchus plant in Magna, and Bestway Products seven years after that, where he remained for the next 31 years, and still runs its repair shop, although he now works only half-time on his way to full retirement. The Naval Air Reserve also used his talent in supplies for 30 years, first at its aviation unit at the Salt Lake Airport and then, when it was closed, flying him monthly to the aviation unit at Buckley in Denver and still later to Alameda in California.
Early on, however, while he was still at Hill and raising his four boys and a middle girl, he lived in a tight-knit LDS community and “went with the flow,” becoming active in scouts and the rest. One Sunday, with his mind wandering during the service, he sat upright as a young American Indian girl gave a 2 ½ minute talk, concluding that her people had been “bad people.” He wondered, as an independent thinker, about the ethics of teaching her to disrespect her own culture and the dignity of her people. He never went back to church.
This episode occurred just before he divorced his wife, moved to Farmington, and undertook to raise his five children alone, first the oldest two and a year later the remaining three. He did marry again, but this one ended in a mutual and friendly divorce, his second wife moving away and marrying twice since then. Enough is enough, he thought, and has not married again. His five children all live close by.
Although he remembers Hugh Gillilan speaking at his father’s memorial service in 1965, he recalls being introduced to humanism only about three years ago while he was listening to talk radio at work and heard Flo Wineriter explain the humanist philosophy. John recognized immediately that this was exactly what he believed. He called Flo, who sent him some literature, and the rest, as they say, is history. He joined Humanists of Utah, and, in his semi-retirement, has been doing an enormous amount of reading. He says he always hungered for knowledge.
July 4, 1876
And what more (in the Declaration of Independence)? That the people are the source of political power. That was not only a revelation, but it was a revolution. It changed the ideas of people with regard to the source of political power. For the first time it made human beings men. What was the old idea? The old idea was that no political power came from, or in any manner belonged to, the people. The old idea was that the political power came from the clouds; that the political power came in some miraculous way from heaven; that it came down to kings, and queens, and robbers. That was the old idea. The nobles lived upon the labor of the people; the people had no rights; the nobles stole what they had and divided with the kings, and the kings pretended to divide what they stole with God Almighty. The source, then, of political power was from above. The people were responsible to the nobles, the nobles to the king, and the people had no political rights whatever, no more than the wild beasts of the forest. The kings were responsible to God; not to the people. The kings were responsible to the clouds; not to the toiling millions they robbed and plundered.
And our forefathers, in this Declaration of Independence, reversed this thing, and said: No; the people, they are the source of political power, and their rulers, these presidents, these kings are but the agents and servants of the great sublime people.
For the first time, really, in the history of the world, the king was made to get off the throne and the people were royally seated thereon. The people became the sovereigns, and the old sovereigns became the servants and the agents of the people. It is hard for you and me now to even imagine the immense results of that change. It is hard for you and for me, at this day, to understand how thoroughly it had been ingrained in the brain of almost every man that the king had some wonderful right over him, that in some strange way the king owned him; that in some miraculous manner he belonged, body and soul, to somebody who rode on a horse, to somebody with epaulets on his shoulders and a tinsel crown upon his brainless head.
—Robert G. Ingersoll
July 4, 1876
This month, I want to finish with my short series about guns and gun violence. But first I want to thank Susan Fox, Rob Duncan and my nephew John Lane for their help during the Pride Festival. Their assistance lugging stuff around, setting up and manning our kiosk is much appreciated.
The festival was a success and enjoyable for all who attended. Our spot was in a better spot for traffic. We had over twenty people sign up for our free subscription and we handed out many of our brochures and other literature. We also sold over three hundred bucks worth of merchandise. One bummer though was that the first time our canopy was tested with rain…It leaked. Luckily we had a large back up tarp that we used as a rain fly over the canopy.
It was a pleasure to be a part of the festival, to witness this wonderful diversity of loving people and to support such a good cause. I hope that some of you who signed up for the free subscription will come and join us at one of our meetings or events. We would love to get to know you.
Guns and Violence
Last month I finished by saying that I would relate a couple of incidences I responded to and also to say a thing or two about police officers.
In the Air Force I met and worked with a few men I would consider adrenaline addicts. They were always looking for a reason to give someone a hard time, hoping for a reaction so they could assert their authority. I also met many who served properly and with courtesy.
I guess the point I should get to is in regards to all the recent killings by the police around the country. Some are obviously wrong, with one example of a cop charged with murder for shooting a guy who was running away, in the back.
But I don’t think the general public really understands what it is like to be on patrol with deadly force at your hand and some, shall we say, troublesome people to deal with. Once while on patrol late at night, I pulled up behind some guy dancing in the middle of the street. After I ordered him to the side and I pulled over to the curb, he ran up to the patrol car and jumped in on the passenger side. I took the keys and exited the vehicle, drew my weapon and ordered him out of the vehicle. I had no way to know his intentions or whether he was armed in any way. Had he not complied and put his hand on the riot shotgun in its mount he would have died. As it turned out he was unarmed and unhinged.
Another time I responded to a domestic disturbance in the NCO housing area. When I knocked on the door, rather large women nearly knocked me down with the screen door as she pushed her way out on to the sidewalk…waving a large butcher knife and looking to slice up her husband, who had disappeared.
As I back peddled and drew my weapon I ordered her to drop the knife. She did comply, but if she had come at me with the knife I would have had to shoot a woman with a knife.
These life threatening incidences were all a result of others actions, not mine.
Along with those kind of experiences, when apprehending some individuals you are subjected to attempts to fight you, head but you, kick you, bite you, spit on you and attempts to get at your weapon.
So I hope as we scrutinize the actions of police officers we remain mindful of what they face often on a daily basis.
Well that’s enough on that subject for now.
Here’s hoping to see you at our July 9th meeting.