Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Saving Starfish

If you want to know the honest truth,
I hate the whole idea of voting today.

Not only are the candidates less than perfect,
but the actual act of voting
means I'll have to screw on a bra,
wear some decent shoes,
and try to manage my bed head.

Then I have to drive down to
the little barn at the
end of my road
and see all my neighbors
and know without a doubt
that they are thinking to themselves
how much weight I gained in four years
or how stupid my John Deer tee shirt
looks with my Bit-O-Honey sleep pants.

But because I believe in democracy
and because I believe that individuals
can make a difference in the world,
I am going to hold my head up
and slip behind that flimsy
shower-curtained booth
and hope my candidate
is celebrating in the morning.

I am not naive enough
to wish for world peace
or the solution to poverty and hunger.
But I do wish for the good ol' days
and how things used to be.

I want a world where personal family calendars
are more important than business Day-Planners.
Where Mom stays home with the kids when they're sick
and feeds them chicken soup
and baby aspirin
and reads them funny books
or sings them gentle songs.

A world where Mom wears an apron
and bakes her love into a thick chocolate cake
and where Mom always knows the parents
of your best friends...

I want a world where Dad makes the rules
and no body dares cross him.
But a Dad that takes time to toss a football
or attend a dance recital
or tinker in his garage.

A world where we can all walk
to the corner grocery after dark
and not be afraid...
A world where we can watch television
that doesn't have to be censored
or hidden from the children...

I want a world where grandparents
are that great couple you visit on weekends-
in their sweet little comfy house
where you have cookies and milk
and long talks about yesterday-
NOT the couple who raises their
grandchildren and grow old without
ever having time for themselves.

Sorry, but I want to live in a society
that speaks English-
grows gardens and cooks home made meals,
looks up to everyday heroes
and not Hollywood icons-
A society
that knows right from wrong,
Heaven from Hell,
and entertainment from perversion.

I want a world where
food is abundant, but there is no waste.
Where children are encouraged and guided,
not ignored and spoiled.

I want a world with big kitchen tables
and real family rooms
and picture albums full of the whole bunch
making great memories....

I know the little check mark on my ballot
won't get me all those things.
(Just like I know that a cute outfit
won't make me look young again.
Just like closing the curtain behind me
may not hide my butt..)

But seriously-
I would like you to take the following story with you
as you go out to vote today.

The Starfish Rescuers
by Jeff Roberts

One morning after a particularly fearsome storm, a man arose early and decided to go for a walk along the sea. As he neared the beach, the early riser saw an old man in the distance slowly, yet purposely, ambling down the shoreline. As he watched, the old man stopped, picked something up, and tossed it into the ocean. Then, the old man slowly straightened himself up, walked several more feet, stooped down, and once again picked up something, which he tossed into the sea.

Intrigued, the early riser moved closer. As he drew near, he realized suddenly what the old man was doing. Littered all down the shoreline, as far as the eye could see, were thousands upon thousands of starfish cast out from the ocean by the fury of the now-passed storm. As the early riser watched, the old man bent down, gently picked up a small, helpless starfish, and tossed it back into the ocean. He repeated the same process every few feet.

After a minute or two, the early riser approached the old man. "Good morning, sir" he said. "I couldn't help notice what you're doing. I commend you for what you're trying to do, but the storm has washed up thousands of starfish on this beach. You can't possibly save them all! What possible difference do you hope to accomplish?"

The old man paused for a long time, pondering the early riser's question. Finally, without saying a word, he bent down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it far into the ocean. "It made a difference to that one," he said.

Now, it was the early riser's turn to be silent. As he looked at the old man with growing admiration, it seemed as if the years fell away, revealing someone wise, noble, and strong enough to stand up to any challenge. Deeply moved, the early riser struggled for the right words, but none would come. At last, he too, bent down, picked up a starfish, and tossed it into the ocean. The old man, watched intently. He spoke not a word, but his nod and a wink said all that was needed. "Well," the early riser said as he looked out at the thousands of starfish stranded on the beach before them, "It looks like we've got a lot of work to do."

Just then, the two men realized they were not alone. Others out for their Saturday morning walks and jogs had witnessed what had taken place. When they saw what the old man and early riser were attempting to do, they too bent down and picked up starfish of their own. Soon, the morning sun shone down upon hundreds of good Samaritans - young, old, black, white, rich, and poor; each working diligently to save as many starfish as he or she was able. What had started out as one, had grown into an army of kindness.

Some time later, an amazing thing happened. As the last starfish was tossed into the ocean, a spontaneous cheer broke out among the starfish rescuers. People hugged and high- fived each other. Some exchanged names and numbers and promised to stay in touch. Others walked off together to share breakfast with new friends. To a person, each one felt they had done something important and had made a difference.

That morning, in the span of only two hours, five thousand starfish were saved, and hundreds of lives were transformed. All because one person cared enough to try to make a difference.

The next time you begin to think that the good you are doing (or considering doing) won't be enough to make a difference, think back to the Parable of the Starfish. Remember... "What is impossible for one, is easily accomplished by many." But someone needs to be the first person to throw the first starfish into the sea.

Copyright 2002, The Acts of Kindness Association. From our book, Love is Kind: How the Kindness of Ordinary People Can Make an Extraordinary Difference and Change the World. For information about The Acts of Kindness Association, or to obtain reprint information, please contact us by phone, 800-822-5874, or visit us on the web, www.keepthekindnessgoing.org. You are welcome to copy this story and/or to send it to others, provided you do not remove this copyright notice, and do not reprint it in other publications without our consent. .