I attended a presentation last night that described some of the social issues in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the United States. The research was established the numbers added up, the problem was evaluated, but something felt missing. Tonight as I began to write the reflection paper for the presentation I began to realize why I felt that something was missing. Because so many of the statistics in my mind related to myself, my family, my friends, my church, my school and everything I know and relate to. She talked about an aging population that are supported by assisted living homes and Social Security and Government Pensions that they rightfully deserve because they paid into the system for most of their lives. But for me that is my great grandmother, my grandmother, and so many of their friends. They worked hard their entire lives and deserve to live out the remainder of their lives in comfort and security. Their health needs should be provided for because they are precious and wonderful people.
The presentation continued with problems in education and high school dropouts and teen pregnancy. For me these are not statistics, but issues that people close to me have walked through and struggle with. There were complex issues surrounding the cause and result of their drop out, pregnancy, and issues with education. It was not those people’s faults who have names and stories and daily stresses that resulted in an abandonment of education for a moment that led to the inability to graduate along with their fellow friends and family members.
Next was a problem of young adults and young professionals leaving Tulsa, OK after college and leaving the community, but that is not a statistic, my brother graduated bible school and moved with his wife to serve as Associate Pastors in rural Colorado. My other brother served in the military, suffered with a flawed system of broken promises and disappointments, issues with the system of service in Afghanistan and Iraq, things that he could not control, that he was left to absorb. My best friend moved to Orlando, FL to help start a church in a suburban community that needs the hope of Jesus. Yes young people are leaving Tulsa, but it is not a statistic, but lives that are on a journey to accomplish something and guard against the stresses of past experiences and disappointments.
I guess my point is, that we do not live in a society of statistics. We do not live with a grouping of numbers. We live with people who have names, stories, personalities, dreams, and families. Don’t quote a bunch of statistics to sound smart, quote a bunch of stories of people who need help, relationships, and need love.
My name is Brian, I have problems that I have lived through. I don’t have all the answers, but I am continuing to live in pursuit of the answers I can find in order to share those answers with others.