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Around The Sun: Saving Starfish

Steve Harrison tells a parable for all time.

I saw this on the back of a T-Shirt one day and it made me laugh: “I’m a nuclear and biological scientist. If you see me running, try to catch up.”

That’s funny in a sick sort of way. But after reading it I had a horrible dream.

I was on a beach. There had been an exceptionally high tide. Thousands of starfish have been washed ashore by the heavy seas. They were crying, curling up, drying out under the baking hot sun. I wanted to save them. I frantically ran back and forth, desperately trying to save them. I wanted to throw each one of them back into the water, but each wave washed another myriad back onto the shore.

Now I was crying. Standing knee-deep in the water, trying to halt the advancing waves. No matter how hard I tried my efforts were futile. Heartache welled up within me. The starfish were crying louder and louder…

My rescue efforts were futile. Meaningless. Heartache welled up within me. I listened to the desperate cries of the starfish, aware that there was nothing I could do but stand and watch.

Then a figure came into sight. A man. He was picking up one starfish at a time, throwing them one by one back into the water.

“I have given up,’’ I cried in despair when he approached me. “No matter how hard I try I can’t make a difference.’’

He placed a hand on my shoulder and led me back to the water’s edge. There he picked up a starfish and threw it into the sea.

“Ask that one starfish,’’ he said. “You can make a difference.’’

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