Wednesday, April 22, 2009

one at a time

An old man walking along the beach at dawn saw a young man picking up starfish and throwing them out to sea.  
"Why are you doing that?" the old man inquired.  
The young man explained that the starfish had been stranded on the beach by a receding tide and would soon die in the daytime sun.  
"But the beach goes on for miles," the old man said, "and there's so many!  How can your effort make any difference?"
The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and without hesitating threw it to safety in the sea.  He looked up at the old man, smiled and said, "It will make a difference to that one."

The president told that story yesterday as he signed the Edward M Kennedy Service Act.  He said that it's a story that Teddy Kennedy likes to tell when speaking about service but I think it's a good thing to think about on Earth Day, too.  As we make small decisions, using reusable bags at the grocery store, turning down the thermostat, composting, riding bikes instead of driving, eating local and organic etc, it can feel like those things don't really make that much difference.  But they do, a little at a time.

watch Obama's speech here (he tells the story at about 17:30)   
image from Life


Steven said...

I love this story. Good thing to remember when I get overwhelmed.

Maya said...

That is just such a great story..., for some reason we seem to only want to do something if it has an instant and big impact (so we can reap the rewards now, I suppose)..., but it really is about doing "the right thing" right now. That's all there is.

Good-Grace said...

I love this story. (Happy 100 days to America!!) *Wonderful* post.

Good-Grace said...

As a side note, reading Maya's comment here - I agree.

President Obama mentioned something about doing "the right thing" in his 100 Days speech today. He said something similar to - What makes America great is that we aim to do the right thing, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard...

abigail said...

I haven't had a chance to watch the hundred days speech yet. I should go do that now!