i’m feeling rather inadequate lately.
i was listening to a podcast the other day, a pastor of a local church here in seattle who was speaking about christianity and social injustices. (i really enjoy listening to him speak because he not only has a deep love for Christ, but he also has a deep love for humanity – something that you really do not see at the same time very often, sadly)
the reason i feel inadequate is because i see all of these tragedies going on around me – people killed because of the color of their skin, children sold into the sex market, racial stereotyping, hunger, disease, slavery… the list goes on and on.
i’m uncomfortable here in my lower-middle-class suburbia. instead of realizing how blessed i am, i find myself trying to keep up with my friends who have the latest and greatest of, well, just about everything. (it pains me to admit it) i’m uncomfortable because i know that there is chaos in the world around me and yet i feel so inadequate to do anything about it.
do i just throw some money at the problems by making a tax-deductible donation to a charity?
do i just pray about the issues?
do i talk about them with my friends while sitting at a local coffee shop drinking fair trade coffee?
what difference can i possibly make when such injustices seem to run rampant?
all of these thoughts reminded me of a story about starfish written by loren eiseley.
i’ve heard many different versions of this story, but it goes something like this:
Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.
He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a little boy, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The little boy was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The little boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.” “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man. To this, the little boy replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.” Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
Discouraged he began to walk away. Suddenly the little boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “I made a difference for that one.” The man looked at the little boy inquisitively and thought about what he had said and had done. Inspired, he joined the little boy in throwing the starfish back into the ocean.
please don’t get me wrong – i’m not knocking donating money to a nonprofit organization, nor am i doing the same to prayer or talking about the issues – those are all good things and need to be done – i’ve just reached a point where i want to do more.
the questions for me now are “who, what, where, and when?” – i’ve already answered the “why” question, now i need to do something about it.
i need to start looking – really looking – at what i can do locally here in seattle to make a difference. i need to step out of my comfort zone, get my hands dirty, and make a difference in someone’s life.