Would you save a starfish?
I teach student leadership. There’s a story that I tell my students when they start to feel a little down about how much impact they’re making in our school. It goes like this: Many starfish washed up on shore. A young boy started picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean. Someone saw what he was doing and told him that it was pointless, that there were too many to save, that it wouldn’t make a difference. Throwing another starfish into the sea, the little boy responded, “It makes a difference to this one.” I’m sure you’ve read this story before, or heard it told by someone who was encouraging you that your small efforts were making a difference. There are also many more elegant versions, but the idea is the same.
While I was watching my kids on the beach in Oregon, I watched my daughter, with all of her innocence and curiosity, trying to figure out what would happen to this little starfish as the tide went out. It left itself stranded in a tide pool and Hannah wandered over to me and asked, “Should I move it?” I told her it was up to her. She did and I hope that she’ll continue to make a difference in even the smallest creatures as she grows up.