Story: A young boy was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When he came to each starfish, he would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched him with amusement.
He had been doing this for some time when a man approached him and said, “Little boy, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The boy seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, he bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he looked up at the man and replied,
“Well, I made a difference to that one!”
The old man looked at the boy inquisitively and thought about what he had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little boy in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.
Perseverance against great odds, against the criticism of others and refusing to accept failure is the very hallmark of value-based idealism. The understanding that we hold in our hands the power to change a life, a mind, or a circumstance today – right now – is a powerful insight and motivator.
Leading the way is the power to inspire others to act, and sometimes in numbers significant enough to make a major or even complete impact on whatever problem or situation we might face.
Perhaps most inspiring of all is to witness the power of children and young people in action. The idealism of youth is a powerful force for leading change in the world. Many of us young people are naturally too stubborn to give up. And when we press on, we might just be surprised to find out who we inspire, which values we showcase, and what we achieve both as individuals, and as a community.