An old man was walking on the beach one morning after a storm. In the distance, he could see someone moving like a dancer. As he came closer, he saw that it was a young woman picking up starfish and gently throwing them into the ocean.
“Young lady, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
“The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in, they will die,” she said.
“But young lady, do you not realize that there are many miles of beach and thousands of starfish? You cannot possible make a difference.”
The young woman listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference for that one.”
- Adapted from the original by Loren Eiseley