Saving Sea Stars

A boy stood on the beach, tossing Sea Stars back into the ocean. A man, seeing that the beach was covered with stranded Sea Stars, came up to the boy and asked, “Why are you doing this? You can’t possibly save them all.”

The boy paused, then held up a Sea Star and replied, “No, but I can save this one, and it matters to him.”

Adapted from The Star Thrower


Starfish_01_(paulshaffner)

By Paul Shaffner, via Wikimedia Commons

I told this story often in debates when I was supporting the argument that governments are obligated to assist other nations in need. Now, I’m beginning to see that this story also applies to much of life.

The boy on the beach is exhibiting one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People—he’s focusing on his circle of influence. The man on the beach is so overwhelmed by the number of Sea Stars that he doesn’t bother to save even one.

Too often, I’m the man on the beach, not the boy. The multitude of things I want to do can be overwhelming. But if I just focus on the immediate, the things I can change right now, a few more Sea Stars will live longer, happier lives. And, knowing I’ve made the world a little nicer a place to be, maybe I will too!

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