On Peace: The Starfish
Amb. Tunde OGUNYALE
I first learnt about the inspiring story of the starfish from Victoria Ibiwoye, the Director of OneAfrianChild, when she facilitated one of our 2019 Pacemlug conference sessions. The beautiful story was originally told by Loren Eiseley, and I will retell the story with the hope that it will strengthen you to continue your good work irrespective of whatever thing that may brew discouragement.
A man was walking along a beach one day when he saw a young boy picking something by the beach side and gently throwing it into the ocean. As the man walked closer to the young boy, he asked him a revealing question: “Young boy, what are you doing over there?” The boy responded, “I am picking up the starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back into the ocean, they will die!”
Hearing this, the man laughed uncontrollably at the young boy’s “foolishness” and then said to him (the boy) in the spirit of assuaging his ignorance, ” do you realise that there are miles of miles of beach and hundreds of thousands of starfish? You cannot make any difference.”
The young boy listened politely and then bent down once more to pick another starfish and threw it to the ocean. As he did this, he looked straight into the man’s eyes with a smile saying, “I made a difference to that one”. In essence, the boy was saying though I may not be able to throw all the starfish back into the ocean but I am making a difference to the ones I could return to the ocean; their natural habitat. Superb.
Like the story of the starfish and the boy, you may also be trying to solve some problems in the society using every available means. Yet, your efforts may seem unnoticeable because of the magnanimity of the problem. Perhaps, the problem has become so enormous that it is almost inseparable from the concerned society. You can’t give up even at that. You see, like the young boy, continue to contribute your “little” quota at making a positive change. Keep doing something to better the course of thing. The truth and fact is that the more little effort you make towards positive change on that societal problem the more changes you make. You may not be able to take a hundred kids away from the street, you may do three, four or one even! You may not be able to bring the whole community leaders or stakeholders to a roundtable for settlement over a conflict of interest among them at once. You may just be able to meet one or two of them. Go ahead and do something. You may not be able to feed all the poor ones in your community but you may just have the ability to help two or three or one even. Do it. When you do something positive it doesn’t necessarily need to be so glaring before you make an impact. No. Little effort counts.
For Peacepace Initiative…towards peace.