Sixth Response: Little Differences Matter (optimism returns)
After brooding in self-doubt and hopelessness for longer than I’d have liked to, things started to change. Many people accepted my return to the norm, losing my dreams and dreamer optimism. But I met someone who finally didn’t.
I told her everything I’d learned. I informed her that the world is just not what I’d hoped it was. That I had a love/hate relationship with politics – I hated to love it, and loved to hate it. I saw its potential for good, but saw the realities of that good become squandered. That there was no hope. We needed calamity for change. People’s lives needed to be affected in a negative way for them to wake up and smell the coffee and do something about it.
She told me something like this: “The world needs people to dream. It needs people to continue on despite the odds. You shouldn’t give up so easily. Don’t give up on people. Little differences matter. You can do what you can – write your ideas down. Maybe now isn’t the time, but maybe someday, someone will pick up your writing and it’ll spark something within them. Maybe helping that one person is worth it. Who knows, maybe it’s the next Martin Luther King Jr. or Gandhi. You never know what inspiration you can bring others or what you can do.”
It struck me hard. She was right. Maybe I didn’t need to make some big sweeping changes now. Or maybe I didn’t need to do it all myself. There’s a whole world of people out there wanting to do a whole lot for others. A smile came back to my lips. Fire came back into my heart.
She then told me a story something along these lines: “There was a man and his son walking along the beach. The tide went out too fast and many starfish were left stranded on the shoreline. The child asked, ‘Daddy, what’s going to happen to the starfish.’ The dad replied, ‘Well, without water, they’re going to die. It’s a big shame.’ The boy then made his way down to the water and started throwing starfish into the water one at a time. The father asked, ‘What are you doing?’ The boy looked at his father and said, ‘I’m saving the starfish.’ The father replied, ‘But you can’t possibly save them all.’ The boy replied, ‘At least I can save these ones.’
Little differences matter. We can do something good for others and not even know it. I later learned that something as small as a facebook status saved a friend’s life, making him decide not to join the army when he was about to. We never know what we can do.