- Austin Stember, Together Tulsa Collective
Lift All Voices; Together We CAN
There’s a segment of service in health care, a conditional response for the most serious of cases. Semantically, it means any course of care that deals in relief and not cure, but palliative care is most often referenced in regards to the desolate and incurable cases. End-of-life cases. Make-them-comfortable cases. It’s a course of healing that exists for those that can’t be helped. The too far gone, the forgotten. And it is not a small decision for doctors to place a patient in palliative care. It is an admission of failure; not personal failure but a failure of thought, economy, and circumstance. Palliative decisions are the literal bleeding edge of medicine. A new drug, new treatment, a breakthrough can push a patient back into curative. What would have been too far a decade ago is now routine. This is a model of progress, continual and unyielding, the result almost unknown, but those cases that can be kept out of palliative care are life and death.
When we speak of education, you’ll hear about reform in the same terms, the same soothing voices saying “we’ll do what we can”. We become so focused on the macroscopic problems, the overwhelming sickness of our education system, that we forget about the individuals we could have saved. We lose hope, we lose faith, because we’ve lost too many of our kids to a system that is imperfect. And we forget that the key to progress is the incremental. The volunteer, the donation, the voice calling for change in an empty room.
In those moments of complacency, the overwhelming of society over the self, Dr. King’s letter from the Birmingham jail is striking:
“Non-violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension th
at a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”
Our children’s education is lagging behind. It is deprioritized, overlooked, forgotten. But a crisis is born of individuals in synchronicity seeking creative tension, seeking confrontation on an issue.
Together We Can is a call to action, a single note in a quiet room. We’ve no ability to reallocate state funds into education. We’ve no power to rebuild schools with multimillion dollar endowments. Our strength is in unity. Our change is in creative tension. We beg of you, lend us your voice, your time, and your effort. Together We Can make education a system of progress.
Because we pray not for a cure, we pray for progress. Let me save one more. And one more. And one more. Because one day they’ll quit talking about education as though it’s too far gone, one day we’ll have manifested a creative tension too overwhelming to stop. Because Together we can save one more. Together we can create a system of progress. Together we are the agents of change.