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  February 14, 2014
Throwing Star Fish...

 

 

"If you think that you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent the night with a mosquito."

~ African Proverb

This last Tuesday there was a special election in San Diego to elect a new city mayor after the last mayor resigned over several scandals concerning sexual harassment.

Now it’s usually not customary to hold an election in California in February so the voter turnout was very sparse.

While I was shopping that evening, I asked the clerk at the store if he had voted.

He responded to my question by saying, "No... I never vote... it’s a waste of time because I’m only one vote out of several thousand that are cast... so it doesn’t really matter..."

I wanted to reprimand him for not exercising the very right that so many have fought and died for... but I thought better than to waste my breath... so I bid him a simple good-night and left the store.

As I drove home, I couldn’t help but think of the old story that I had once heard as a young boy...

There was an old man who used to go to the ocean’s shore to walk every morning.

Early one morning, the old man was walking along the beach when off in distance he saw a young man bending down occasionally to pick something up and throw it into the ocean. 

As the old man got closer, he called out to the young man, "Good morning!  May I ask what you are doing?"

The young man paused starfishand looked up, and replied, "I’m throwing starfish back into the ocean.  The storm last night washed them onto the beach and they can’t return to the ocean by themselves.  When the clouds burn off and the sun comes out, they will die unless I throw them back into the water."

The old man replied, "But there must be hundreds of starfish on this beach... plus thousands of starfish on other beaches all up and down the coast.  I’m afraid that your efforts won’t really make that much of a difference."

The young man bent down, and picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean.

He then turned to the old man, smiled and said, "It made a difference to that one... "

How many times in our lives have we found ourselves in a situation where the scope of the problem is so big that we ask ourselves, "How can I possibly make a meaningful difference?"

Our lot in life isn’t to lead our country of a billion people to independence, without waging war against the rulers, like Mahatma Gandhi.

We weren’t born into a system of governance where voting privileges was determined by the color of our skin... and where we would spend most of our adult life in prison for trying to change the status quo like Nelson Mandela.

We didn’t lead the fight that allowed woman the right to vote in America like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucy Stone.

We are not a civil rights leader like Martin Luther King... a general leading his troops fighting against the Nazi tyranny in WWII... or the leader of the free world...

We are not famous... we do not have celebrity status... we do not have great wealth... we aren’t leading a movement... we are not fighting a war against a great injustice...

Most of us are just one person...

...so what can we do as just one person?

My friend Nick and I were driving one cold night when we saw a homeless woman on the side of the road without a jacket or warm clothing.  Nick pulled the car over to the side of the road... open his trunk and took out a blanket he used to keep himself warm at his kids’ soccer games... he gave the blanket to the woman.

He made a difference in her life that cold evening...

Another friend of mine, Jeff, was asked by a homeless man in front of a fast-food restaurant for some spare change so he could buy a hot cup of coffee.  Knowing that his money might just be spent at a local liquor store, Jeff instead walked the man into the restaurant and told the man to order lunch for himself. 

Instead of parting with a few quarters, Jeff bought the man a complete meal.

He made a difference by helping to feed a person one small meal...

There are countless other stories of small efforts, by ordinary people, that made a positive difference in someone’s life.

Making a difference doesn’t take much work... it just takes a willingness to make an effort.

Little things like...

Filling up a trash bag with litter at the local park...

Writing a personal letter to let someone know that you’re thinking of them...

Offering to tutor a child who needs some extra help...

Stopping by to play a game of cards with an elderly person in the neighborhood...

Taking someone to the airport...

Offering to take a stranger’s shopping cart back to the store front...

Stopping to help a stranded driver change a flat tire...

Helping a friend move...

Giving blood...

Waking up early to make the family a hot breakfast...

Every person has the capacity to help another human being at one time or another... there just needs to be the willingness to do so...

Most of the time, there isn’t a reward for doing nice things for people... there is no recognition on the local news or write-ups in the paper... if you’re lucky you might get a heart-felt "thank you... I really appreciate it".

...but a reward should not be the reason for the action... the real reward is knowing that you were able to help someone... because there might be some day when you are the one who needs a little extra help...

It doesn’t matter that you don’t lead congregations of people... you’re not a community organizer... you don’t teach third graders... save the whales... or are the leader of a revolution...

One person can and does make a difference... to someone... at some time. 

Everyone counts... even you...

Thank you very much for your support of OptiFuse where each and everyone makes a difference...

 

Jim Kalb
President

Email - jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com

Twitter - @OptiFuse


Previous Blogs

What Matters the Most...

Because I Said I would...

This & That - Part II ...

An Uncomfortable Feeling...

Intro to Finance 101...

Ringing in the New Year...

The Life of the Party...

Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow...


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