There is the story about a boy walking along a storm wrecked seashore who is tossing beached starfish, one by one, back into the sea. The shore stretched as far as the eye could see and eventually the obvious was pointed out to the child: Completing the task was far beyond his capacity.
Since he could not possibly make a meaningful difference, when asked why he was indulging in such a pointless endeavor, with the simplicity of a child he shrugged his shoulders and said as he rescued another starfish, “Made a difference to that one.”
It is a small thing, I know, but I make a habit of picking up at least one piece of litter each day (and on my own property does not count!). It is largely a symbolic act, and I’m sure there are many ways in which I can and should contribute more. Yet this one resonates with me so I do it.
I feel as if in some tiny way I’m giving back, paying rent to the earth, acknowledging the debt of deep gratitude I feel for nature and all her wonders.
At times I feel overwhelmed, as there is so much to do, so many needs, that it is difficult to help in effective ways.
Then I take a deep breath and remember the little boy. I go (metaphorically) and sweep off the sidewalk in front of my house, and on occasion that of my neighbor’s as well.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
This is a classic from the NSC Blog archive. Originally posted September 19, 2007.