Recently, a lot of my clients have been talking about the current state of the world and feeling so overwhelmed. They feel rage, disappointment, grief, and above all, hopelessness. Hopeless because of how many problems we have, the lack of progress, and what can we do to actually create change. Many have talked about how they do not feel they can make a difference, and that their individual contribution cannot change the big picture. I've shared the following story with a few of my clients who have expressed feeling this way:
A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stopping often, picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.
“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” he asks.
“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”
“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You can’t possibly save them all. You can’t even save one-tenth of them. In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”
The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one."
We need policy change. We need legal reform. But individual action, compassion, advocacy and kindness will always matter.