A lot of times this thought discourages me, and probably a lot of people too, from helping others in meaningful ways or from doing small acts of kindness, that what difference would it make, there would still be lot of deprived people, or my efforts alone will not change the world. But after I read this story (by Jeff Ostander) in a book it gave me the answer, I hope it will inspire you too.
Along the cost of an ocean there lived an old man. Each day when the tide went out he would make his way along the beach for miles. Another man who lived not far away would occasionally watch as he vanished into the distance and later notice that he had returned. The neighbor also noticed that, as he walked, the old man would often stoop down to lift something from the sand and then toss it into the water.
One day, when the old man went down to the beach this neighbor followed to satisfy his curiosity. As he watched, the old man bent down and gently lifted up a fish, which had been stranded by the retreating tide and would, of course, die of dehydration before the tide returned, and threw it back into the ocean. As the man was doing this the neighbor called out with degree of mockery in his voice, “Hey, what are you doing, this beach goes on for hundreds of miles, and thousands of fishes get washed up everyday! Surely you don’t think throwing a few is going to matter.”
The old man listened and paused for a moment, then held the starfish his hand out toward his neighbor. “It matters to this one.”
I learned from this story that no matter how small our efforts are they still make some difference to somebody, and that’s reason enough to make the effort.