Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Boy and the Starfish

All good stories begin with "Once upon a time," right? Well here's one, that was adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1907-1977). You might find it reminding you of a similar story I recently told about a dog, and the message is really the same, so read on.

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a little boy, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" said the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the boy replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

Indeed. It made a difference for every single starfish the boy threw into the water. The message this morning is clear, and it's one I have I shared over and over. WE can make a difference. WE can be superheroes. WE can do some pretty incredible things. If we throw our hand up in surrender and don't even try to make this a better world, of course we won't be giving back, but each of us can and should give back in our own way. If it seems overwhelming and that our contributions won't make a bit of difference, remember the story of the boy and the starfish!

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