August 31, 2011

It made a difference to that one...

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

Sometimes in my work I feel as though the issue at hand is too big for one person, or one organization, to make any difference. That we can't do enough to affect literacy rates because we don't have the support we need from the system. Or in regards to health literacy, that poor communication and lack of empathy for the low health literate patient is commonplace, and that no matter what we do, the change will be minimal at best.

This story, written by anthropologist, Loren Eiseley, reminds me that everything we do as individuals really does make a difference, albeit minor. But when all of our individual efforts are combined, these minor differences become much greater, lasting changes.

It's worth it, y'all! Keep doin what you're doin!

No comments:

Post a Comment