Thursday, January 30, 2014

HE SEEKS THE SEEKERS

We are all seekers.  However, we are not all seeking the same thing which I guess is good, but maybe it is not.  Maybe we should all be seeking the same thing.  Maybe we should all be seeking truth and justice, but then how would we ever agree on what they were?

Some of us are looking for wealth.  A small number of us have found it and the greater numbers are chasing it like the greyhounds chase the fake rabbit at the track. 

Others are looking for fame or family. 

Fame can come and go in a millisecond or can last a lifetime.  It can also not come until someone has been dead for years.  Fame can fool you.  It never turns out to be as good as one imagined it would be.

Family can break your heart or make it soar.  It can be a haven or people you want to hide from.  Some people think you owe family loyalty no matter the circumstances and others will tell you that you have the right to get a divorce from family.

Some are seeking to become a part of a community.  Seeking a place to belong and feel safe. This search seems to never cease. In order to find community many people follow the advice attributed to Sam Rayburn the man who served as Speaker of the US House of Representatives for seventeen years the longest anyone has ever served.  He is quoted as saying “If you want to get along, go along.”

Seekers turn to every kind of religion, spirituality, diet, training program and special interest group to find their home.  They are looking to fill a void that humankind has sought to fill for as long as we have any knowledge of their activities.

Anthropology has much to say about the religious beliefs and practices of humankind besides the ones found in the Old Testament and New Testament that make up our modern day Bible.  Some are similar to what is found in the Testaments and some are concepts that would be rejected outright by most believers of the Testaments.

What is interesting to me is that no matter the path they all have one thing in common.  They are trying to form some sort of relationship with the god or gods or in some way reach a dimension they can’t reach with their conscious minds.  Peoples all down through the ages have yearned to fill the void that seems to be in all of us.  We have a place deep within our inner being crying out to something or someone bigger than ourselves who can comfort us.

I don’t know if you know the answer to the void in your soul is the Son standing right beside you this very moment.
This is His plea to you.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:27-29 ESV)

© Ed Cooper, January 30, 2014
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

KNOW WHO IS WRITING THIS BLOG

 URFSMP74PNC4

Ed was born in a small college town in eastern Kentucky.  Although he has lived in a number of states and in southern Africa as a teenager, his Appalachian roots remain important to him.  He lives in Appalachia today.

Ed is a retired businessman who spent most of that time in the tire and tire retreading business.  He has taken the skills learned in business and along with help from his wife Patty spent the years since 1988 being an advocate for the rights and humane treatment of folks labeled with a mental illness.  Ed considers himself an ability advocate rather than a disability advocate.

He is an ordained minister in the Christian Church/Churches of Christ and spent most of his teenage years on a mission station in Zimbabwe, Africa with his parents.  Because of this background and his own convictions from the beginning of his advocacy work Ed has put an emphasis on the church and those like himself with a psychiatric label.  In 1989, NAMI-NC held its main conference in Greensboro with a major emphasis being put on this issue.  A Friday night session was held where then Director John Baggett and Ed spoke on the subject and they did a workshop together on Saturday.

Ed is a published author with over 100 articles published, two books published, and a moderately successful blog and website.  He is presently working on his second book of poetry.

Ed has been able to complete some college, but for the most part formal education has been a disaster for him from the first grade to his last attempt at getting more college hours just a few years ago.  However, don’t take for granted he is an uneducated person. Self-taught people sometimes turn out to have the least polluted minds. 
Ed believes in the worth and dignity of every person.  He has lived on the streets, been locked away in mental hospitals, lost job opportunities because of a label and been looked down on by many, but he still dreams.

“One must find a dream for the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year, if one is to make it through till morn or have a hope of making it to their final dream.”   A quote by Ed cooper   

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

NIGHT TERRORS or NIGHTMARES

When you wake up in the morning and the blankets on your bed look like there has been a war and you feel drained, can you assume you had a bad night? 

“Night terrors are most common in boys ages 5 - 7, although they also can occur in girls. They are fairly common in children ages 3 - 7, and much less common after that. Night terrors may run in families. They can occur in adults, especially when there is emotional tension or the use of alcohol.”
(from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000809.htm) So am I having “night terrors” which is more common in children or something else? 

calls the horrible events of the night by a different name if you have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The VA says they are nightmares.  People I know experiencing them call them night terrors.  Whatever you call them they usually consist of reliving past traumatic events and leave your bed a mess and your body and mind in the same condition as your bed.

I know people who have gone to their graves still having these night terrors/nightmares.  Some I have known received mental health care a good portion of their lives.  It doesn’t seem so easy to get rid of the things that come forth in the night and mess up your bed.

The more stress a person faces each day the worse that night will be.  That may not be a rule set in stone, but it is a pretty good bet.  I am told there are good treatments, but I personally don’t know anyone who has totally gotten rid of their night visits of past events. 

We seem to have a good understanding of what causes them, but we don’t seem to have found a good way to reach or to help people who have been the victims of long term sexual or violent abuse or veterans of war who develop severe PTSD who also have other complicating issues.

Why am I writing this?  My hope is that someone will email me at edcooper@projectdreamagain.com
and say Ed you are dead wrong.  I won this battle and I am free of night terrors/nightmares and have been for ______.  You don’t have to put your name.  I just want to be able to share some hope.  I can’t say it.  I want to find someone who can.

*My wife pointed out that these night terrors/nightmares are re-traumatizing.

**You can read a poem dedicated to returning Veterans by clicking on “The Soldier Who Came Home” at the right on this page.


© Ed Cooper, January 25, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Friday, January 24, 2014

THE SOLDIER WHO CAME HOME


He looked at her and knew
she didn’t know the new person
he had become.
She couldn’t recognize the man
who returned from war
as the one she loved so deeply
before he left her all alone.
Their son would no longer play with him
or go fly fishing with him on the stream
they both had loved so much.
She wondered what had changed him
so much that she or their son
only saw a stranger now.
He could have told them,
but they didn’t really ask
because they assumed
he didn’t want to talk about it.
He would have told them
it wasn’t the reality of war
that tore apart his inner self.
It was not seeing blood or death
or buddies killed and wounded.
He would have told them it was
facing the evil he saw in himself.
Until he tells someone how he feels
he will never know it was not
the evil in him he saw, but rather
the evil in the acts he was forced
by circumstances to commit.
Who came home?
A soldier full of guilt
unable to tell others why
left to cry alone out of sight.

© Ed Cooper, January 23, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Sunday, January 19, 2014

DON'T HAVE TO GO ALONG TO GET ALONG

Samuel Taliaferro "Sam" Rayburn (January 6, 1882 – November 16, 1961) was a Democratic lawmaker from Bonham, Texas, who served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years, the longest tenure in U.S. history.  He is quoted as saying “If you want to get along, go along.”  I am not sure it is original with him, but he is supposed to have said it.  The question is not does it work, but rather is it good moral advice?

I grew up on a mission station in Zimbabwe at a time in the early sixties when it was ruled by the white minority population.  I was there when then Prime Minister Ian Smith declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the United Kingdom.  Rhodesia was never fully recognized as a country, but should I have gone along like minority white rule was an acceptable state of affairs just to get along or did I owe the Shona people I lived among more?

I served in the military during the Vietnam War.  After getting to basic training at Fort Jackson, SC I put in for conscientious objector status based on religious reasons.  I was willing to be a medic, but not willing to bear arms.  My claim was turned down and I went ahead and qualified with the weapon and then went on to medic’s training and further medical training in the military.  Should I have ever agreed to pick up the weapon to simply get along?

If a friend says that the New Testament does not say anything about homosexual behavior that only the Old Testament does, should I keep silent about the scriptures in Corinthians and Romans that do speak about such behaviors or just go along?  Should I at least point out they are there without making any judgments about people since the same New Testament says I am not a judge?

If someone says they are having a psychotic episode, but it is just a path to their becoming a healer or it is a spiritual emergency, should I say nothing to just get along?  What if they tell me what my episode is?  Do I still have to stay silent to get along?  Maybe the truth here is that neither one of us should be telling the other what they are experiencing.

Sam’s advice may have worked well for him in the world of politics, but in my world I don’t intend to go along to get along.  I also don’t intend to try to fix other people or to tell them what they are experiencing or to try to define their pain.  DSM-5 is a dumb attempt at that and I don’t need to make another.

When Jesus says He is the Shepherd and we are His flock (John 10), He is speaking of community.  Real community is not built on the go along-get along philosophy of mass culture.  Real community is built on being able to speak the truth from your heart and being able to be your real self without fear of judgment.  Real community is the real you being embraced with all your warts and wings.  You don’t need to go along there.  However, in community you will be able to go long.  The embrace will bring hope and grace.  Your dreams will turn from tears into years of moving small stones that eventually move mountains.  Community is not just a place for your body.  It is an indigenous, native and natural home for your soul. There you don’t have to go along to get along. You are home.     

©Ed Cooper 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

TO MY DAUGHTER: A POEM BY FATHER

Hope for the morn
does not come
from a dream
or a fantasy,
but only from
the knowing
of the true self
you worked
so hard 
to know and be.


© Ed Cooper, January 17, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

KNOW THAT GOD KNOWS YOU

you may not know God
but God knows you
this one thought 
can change the direction 
of your destination
God does not rape people
God does not force people 
to see, hear, or feel
the presence of God's life changing power
know that God knows you

maybe you should seek God?


©ed cooper, January 14, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee 

Friday, January 10, 2014

WAR and HUNGER are RELATED


The desert sands of the Republic of South Sudan
and in the land of what was once Great Zimbabwe
you can hear the cries of hungry babies so tiny
they don’t even look real in their mother’s arms.
The world has enough to feed them all,
but not the will to make sure they are fed.
Instead we feed a war machine with our millions
to force democracy everywhere we can.
In return we can hear the cries of our men and women
at night when sleep is beyond their grasp and all
they can see, hear and feel is the war again and again
and again until the night becomes morn.  We sent
them to force democracy and now they face the night
alone and their families are left to suffer with them.
The democracy never came were they fought
only more cries of pain from the children and mothers
as the fighting goes on even after our brave men and women
are home recovering from wounds seen and unseen.
War and hunger are related. I hope we come to see
before we destroy all the world’s young by either
starving them to death or leaving them with the scars of war.
I pray we may open our eyes and see our fellow man.

© Ed Cooper, January 10, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS GRIEVING


It is always hard to know what to say to someone who has lost someone close to them.  Most people avoid saying anything leaving the grieving person feeling abandoned.  In reality, considering what some folks say thinking they are helping, maybe the person is better off feeling abandoned.  There has been much written on the subject of grief and the grieving process; so this blog entry is not about trying to cover those subjects.  Here I want to offer a couple of suggestions about what to say to the person who has lost a loved one or someone they knew well.

1) Tell them how much you love them.  Don't say it if you haven't had a relationship with them that makes it believable. The person needs to know that there is still someone in the world that deeply cares for them.

2) Talk to them about the person who has died and most important let them talk about the person.  If you don't know much about the person who died then ask questions.  Don't assume as lots of folks do that the person does not want to talk about the person who has died.

3) Ask what you can do.  I mean ask about practical things you might be able to do.

4) Don't tell them it will get better with time because you don't know when or if it will get better.  Simply assure them of your love and support.

Just an add on note.  Most of the above applies to being supportive of someone who has an important person in their life who is seriously ill.  You can't assure them the person will get well.  You can only assure them of your love and support.

All the the above can be improved if you can also add the element of Faith. To have a conviction that the Creator is alive and well is certainly soothing at a time of need.  We might need to think about the following verses.


Matthew 13:16-17

New King James Version (NKJV)
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

EMERSON & THOREAU: SEEKING THE SIMPLE

"Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." - Ralph Waldo Emerson


       A View of Walden Pond from Emerson's Cliff About a Hundred Years Ago

Henry David Thoreau went to live at the home of Emerson in 1841. In 1845, he began building a small house on the shore of Walden Pond which was on Emerson's land. 

                        Walden Pond Cove Nearest To Thoreau's Cabin

                                  Walden Pond as Seen from Space

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau had more in common than having lived in the same house and on the same land.  They had more in common than belonging to the same club or writing for its journal.  Both are well known for their mistrust of materialism.

Thoreau sought the serenity to go into tomorrow with a high spirit at Walden Pond by seeking the simple.  Tomorrow looks brighter the less baggage we carry into it.

This is a verse from a poem by Thoreau

Great God, I ask for no meaner pelf*
Than that I may not disappoint myself,
That in my action I may soar as high
As I can now discern with this clear eye.
          Henry David Thoreau

Seeking the simple will let you soar!

*pelf
money or wealth, especially when regarded with contempt or acquired by reprehensible means.

Origin:
1300–50; Middle English  < Old French pelfre  booty
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.





Friday, January 03, 2014

I AM IN A COCOON HIDDEN AWAY

They said it was evidence-based practice.
     They were sure I would be happier.
          They told me independent living was the only way 
               to true recovery which they knew was my goal.

They never asked if I could cook,
     or if I liked to shop for groceries.
          They never thought to find out if or where I had any friends. 
               They just found me an evidence-based place.

The papers say I am in a place of my choosing.
    The papers say it is a person-centered plan.
          I wonder what person it is centered around?
               I guess whoever the state/lawsuit tasked with making me happier.
                
I am neither in the community nor in a commune.
     I’m in a cocoon hidden away like I need to be ashamed.
          How will I ever find my people with all the baggage
               this person-centered evidence-based treatment team makes me carry?


© Ed Cooper, January 3, 2014, Stoney Creek, Tennessee