Archive for the ‘Make a Difference’ Category

Service of What’s the Difference?

Monday, June 17th, 2024

The often-told story about the little boy and the starfish is attributed to an essay by Loren Eiseley although I suspect, like a game of telephone, the version I heard recently might be quite a leap from the original.

Here’s the story I heard. A little boy was tossing starfish back into the ocean at low tide. A man walking by asks him why he bothers because there are hundreds on the beach, and he can’t save most that will die before the tide returns. “What difference will you make?” asks the adult. The child responds, as he tosses another into the ocean: “It makes a difference to this starfish.”

The wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, world hunger and disease were the beached starfish mentioned in the talk I attended. We were told that we are not expected to fix these things but to think of what we can do, even if it’s the equivalent of saving only one of the thousand starfish.

Almost daily I walk by a homeless person begging outside a church, restaurant or drugstore because I have been warned over and over only to donate to legitimate charities that, in turn, are set up to help. Last Friday I passed parents, who appeared to be foreign, sitting on a sidewalk under scaffolding on Second Avenue. Their two young children crouched between them. A pedestrian, holding a hard hat, handed some bills to the father who made the sign of the cross and thanked the donor. Oh my.

There are politicians whose visions and perspectives I support but I could empty my bank account in a few minutes placing myself in the poorhouse if I donated to each or a significant amount for me, to one.

Do you feel overwhelmed when you consider all the needy, issues and wars that result in life or death? What metaphoric starfish do you save?

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