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Around The Sun: Rescuing Starfish

Steve Harrison tells a modern parable.

And now I’m on the beach and there has been a very high tide. Thousands of starfish have been washed ashore by the heavy seas. They’re all crying and curling up and dying under a baking hot sun.

I want to save them all. I run frantically back and forth, rescuing them one at a time, throwing them back into the water. For every one I throw in another half-dozen are washed on shore.

Now I am crying. I stand knee-deep in water, trying to stop the tide.

My best efforts seem futile, meaningless. My heart is breaking. The starfish cry louder still, and I cannot save them.

Eventually I abandon my rescue efforts. Sorrowfully I sit and watch as the baking sun fries my screaming starfish friends.

Another man comes steadily towards me along the beach. He is picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the sea.

He approaches me. Puts a hand on my shoulder to comfort me. I express my despair.

He leads me to the water's edge. He picks up a starfish and throws it into the sea.

"You say you cannot make a difference,'' he says. "Ask the starfish I just threw back. It would say you can make a difference.''

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