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K-State Research and Extension
123 Umberger Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506-3401

March 7, 2017

Stay Safe, and Starfish Story

Submitted by Daryl Buchholz

Daryl Buchholz

Just wish to begin with expressing concern, hope, and praying for the safety of all who have and are being confronted by extremes of wild fires, winds, dust storms, tornadoes, and hail. Wishing for your safety, and the safety of all who respond to these disasters and work to bring the extremes back under control and provide support to those in need. Be safe.

The Starfish Story... adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley

I was reminded of this story this past weekend. There are many versions and you have probably heard of it before. I believe it is worth repeating:

There was a young man walking down a deserted beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a frail old man. As he approached the old man, he saw him picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea. The young man gazed in wonder as the old man again and again threw the small starfish from the sand to the water. He asked, "Old man, why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time." The old man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. "But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish!" exclaimed the young man. "How can you make a difference?" The old man looked at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it to the safety of the sea, he said, "It makes a difference to this one!"

I've seen this story told where the young man is referred to as the wise man or the old man, and the frail old man referred to as a young man or a girl. Regardless of how one designs the characters, the value comes through action and making a difference. Obviously, at times the work seems overwhelming, and our ability to make a difference becomes clouded in the vastness of the issue. It's easy for the critics to point out that such work is a waste of time and money. Keeping focus on those you can and do reach and the difference you make in their lives is the story you must keep alive.

When it comes to making change, I always enjoy the quote by American anthropologist Margaret Meade, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."  And, have a great week!