Monday, April 4, 2011

Starfish and ripples of kindness

Pessimism is counterfeit realism. Yes there is evil, in the world. Yes there are great intractable problems that face us on planet earth.  But pessimism would have me believe that nothing I do will matter.  I see the problems of the world, the problems of my life, the problems of the lives of the people I know and love.  And I am tempted to simply become passive and disconnect.

Pessimism leaves no room for God, and no room for individual love and courage. And it is never the final word.

In the old parable, an early morning wave washed thousands of starfish up onto the beach.  As the sun was coming up there were the first few beachcombers looking at the miles of beach littered with starfish. One older man saw a young man walking down the beach briskly picking up starfish and throwing them back into the water.  As the young man got closer, he said, “Son there are thousands of starfish, and miles of beach. What you’re doing won’t make a bit of difference.” Without missing a beat, the young man picked up the next few starfish several feet away flinging them into the water and saying, “It will for this one, and this one, and this one.”

We have a choice when we see war, poverty, injustice, disaster, hunger,  and so many other needs. We can retreat into passivity and impotence or we can make a difference for the ones we can reach.

Hunter, our great Pyrenees dog who, who died a few years ago, was rescued from the pound. Pancho, our current dog, was a mangy puppy living in the gutter who Anne rescued and brought home.

Every month,  about $30 is debited from our bank account.  That money helps care for a young woman in a Central African Country. Over the years we have gotten to know RK from correspondence which has changed from very childlike scribbles to the words of a young woman, now studying at an adult level. An AIDs orphan she and her older sister have formed a family of siblings and cousins.

From our dogs we have been given great affection and joy. Our lives are enriched by every animal we’ve ever known.

And those few dollars that go to our dear RK. Those few dollars have not just changed her, but she has become a caring young woman, seeking to help others in her family, her village, her country.

“Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”  Scott Adams, creator of “Dilbert”

“Let us not lose heart in doing good.” Galatians 6:9a

1 comment:

  1. Fr. Paul this is one of my favorite posts. It is important to be reminded of what grace and gift our most simple actions can bring. I for one needed to hear this. Keep up the great writing.