Monthly Article Archives: January 2007

Saving a Starfish and Enriching Our LivesRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

The late Loren Eiseley wrote a story about a starfish that I am certain many of you have heard. The story has been told with several variations, mainly involving the depiction of the two main characters as either old or young or man or woman. However, the variations do not alter the central message, namely, that each of us has the capacity to make a significant difference in the lives of others. What follows is one version: An elderly man was picking up objects off the beach and tossing them out into the sea. A young man approached and saw that the objects were starfish. He asked, “Why in the world are you throwing starfish into the water?” “If the starfish are still on the beach when the tide goes out and the sun rises high in the sky, they will die,” replied the elderly man. The young man countered, “That is ridiculous. There are thousands of miles of beach and millions of starfish. You can’t really believe that what you’re doing could possibly make a difference!” The wise old man picked up another starfish, paused thoughtfully, and as he threw it to the safety of the sea, he said,

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