I run into a lot of cynics. The nicer ones commend my good intentions, but one way or another they tell me I’m wasting my time. They tell me I’m a small voice in the wilderness, a salmon swimming up stream. After all, people are what they are and they’re not going to change.
So, do I really think that my little 90-second talks about ethics and character really make any difference? Yeah, I guess I do. Sure, there are times when I feel worn out and wonder whether it’s worth it, but one reason I’ve always been able to snap back is that I have high hopes and low expectations.
You see, I don’t expect to turn sinners into saints or to eradicate evil, corruption, stupidity, or selfishness. But I do think that with a little encouragement, all of us can and many of us do choose to be better, one decision at a time.
I love the story about a young boy walking on a beach who comes upon hundreds of starfish abandoned on the sand by a rapidly receding tide. Realizing they’ll die unless they get back to the water, he starts picking them up one by one and throws them back into the sea. A passerby makes fun of him for wasting his time. “Foolish boy, there are too many starfish out here. Many are dead already. Throwing a few back won’t make any difference.” Undaunted, the boy looks at the living creature in his hand and says, “It will for this one.”
Cynics worry so much about what can’t be done that they never understand what can be done, one starfish at a time. Every one of us can make a difference, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of others and in the character of our homes, our neighborhoods, and our communities. If we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem.
This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.