A young man was walking along the seashore. Far ahead of him, he saw a distant figure: someone who, like him, was walking, but who paused every few steps, stooped down, and seemed to be throwing something into the sea. His curiosity aroused, the young man hurried forward, and caught up with the man.
As he came closer, he saw that it was an old man, and the reason that he would stop every step or two, was to pick up a starfish that was washed up on the shore. In the heat of the sun they would dry up and die; so the man was flinging them back into the ocean.
As he looked the young man noticed that there were hundreds of starfish that littered the beach for miles, all stranded there by the tide. To the young man, the older man’s efforts seemed pointless. He spoke to the old man, "Why are you doing this? You can’t save all of these starfish! It’s useless! What does it matter?"
The old man paused for a moment, looking down and picked up a starfish. He turned it over slowly, and then answered, "It matters to this one." Then he picked up another, and said; "and it matters to this one." Then he picked up another, and said; "and it matters to this one."
Obviously, this story illustrates the fact that each of us can make a difference. We may not ever change the whole world; but we can certainly change the lives of the individuals we encounter. And for each of them, that does indeed change their world.
Source: This story, commonly referred to as “The Star Thrower”, has appeared in several iterations. It was originally penned by Loren Eiseley, a highly respected anthropologist, writer, ecologist, and poet who published several books in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s. Several copies of Eiseley's original story can be found on the internet. One is here: ttp://www.eiseley.org/Star_Thrower_Cook.pdf.
His story was later popularized by Joel Barker in his best-selling popular videos and (later) books on the subjects of vision and leadership. Dr. Barker’s story is found here: http://www.starthrower.com/star_thrower_story_script.htm. Dr. Barker’s actual website is: http://www.joelbarker.com/. Evangelist Gordon Curley’s website can be found here: http://www.countiesuk.org/people/gordon-a-penny-curley.html?authid=75&authid=75.