Tag Archives: responsibility

Ancient wisdom for today (31)

August 31st 2012, Day 31, Proverbs 31

“Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute” Proverbs 31:8-9 (The Message)

I’m sure you’ve heard this (or some other) version of ‘The Starfish Story’;

An old man had a habit of early morning walks on the beach. One day, after a storm, he saw a human figure in the distance moving like a dancer. As he came closer he saw that it was a young woman and she was not dancing but was reaching down to the sand, picking up a starfish and very gently throwing them into the ocean.

“Young lady,” he asked, “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

“The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die.”

“But young lady, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference.”

The young woman listened politely, paused and then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves, saying, “It made a difference for that one.”

The old man looked at the young woman inquisitively and thought about what she had done. Inspired, he joined her in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved

The Star Thrower” (or “starfish story”) is part of a 16-page essay of the same name by Loren Eiseley (1907–1977).

The point being that there are so very many people who need someone to speak out for justice for them that there’s a risk of feeling overwhelmed. However if we made it our immediate goal to try to make a difference for just one …and having done that, for just another one …and then another (and so on) then even if we only succeed in making a difference for one person – that is worthwhile.