There is an old and often told story of a child walking along a beach, picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the ocean. In this story, an adult encounters the child and proclaims, “you can’t save them all. Your work doesn’t make a difference.” Replies the child, continuing in her labor “I made a difference in this one’s life. And this one’s life. And this one’s life.”
It is a powerful story about the importance of small acts.
And it is cultural cover for a big lie. If that child doesn’t look beyond the stranded starfish to the re-graded shoreline, she cannot realize that the starfish are being stranded because the new vacation development changed the inflow and outflow of the tide. She cannot see the new drainage line funneling the city’s contaminated runoff into the sea to which she is returning the starfish.
Beloveds, let us commit to looking beyond the need presented in front of us and ask “why is this happening? What is going unquestioned in the larger system that allows people to be hungry, wetland to be destroyed, water to become scarce?”
And while we feed those who are hungry, let those of us who are not hungry recognize that we, too, are benefitting from a system that creates hungry people. Let us wonder, together, why this is – and then begin to work with those who are hungry to change the system that creates hungry people.
It is time for a culture shift, beloveds.
And we are called to be a part of the change. Let the organizing begin.