Diane and I watched Snowden the other night. Yeah, we’re a little behind the times and yes, we recognized it was Oliver Stone’s dramatization of those particular events. Yet, it was still a pill that was tough to swallow. Our government was (is) spying on everyone: Americans, foreign nations, your mom, your favorite teacher, terrorists, your ex, you, me, everyone, using the excuse that it was for our own good.
I don’t know that we were all that surprised. Disheartened would be a better term. We felt disheartened due to the scope of insanity happening in our world. Here's a sample of things we're supposed to be afraid of: terrorists - both foreign and (mostly) domestic, war, starvation, shaming, hatred, murder, rape, illegal surveillance, water shortages, water poisoning, secrecy, control, security over freedom, humans treating each other - along with every other living thing - horribly,
fear, Fear, FEAR...
It was an intense movie that provoked intense thoughts followed by an intense discussion. After all, all these things are happening in our world. We’re sitting in Austin, in the midst of creating a pit bull rescue and animal sanctuary, thinking it will make a difference. I looked at Diane as she attached a leash to Vito, about to take him out for his final business break of the night, and asked, “Is it worth it? Is what we’re doing making a difference?”
She pondered my question for a brief moment before responding. “Yes, this is all happening in our world. Personally, I have to look away from it at times and focus on what I can do. Otherwise, I could get overwhelmed and allow myself to feel hopeless. If I did that, and everyone else did that, nothing would change.”
As she walked outside with Vito, I thought about the Boston Marathon bombing. As news outlets repeatedly showed the explosion while runners ran toward the finish line, there was something that always caught my eye while watching the footage. There was the explosion and everyone initially ran from it. Then, within seconds, people ran toward the explosion. There could have been another bomb, or even several more bombs waiting to explode, yet people put aside their own safety and ran toward danger. Why? Why did people immediately run toward danger?
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” ~ Fred Rogers
One of my favorite stories is the Starfish Story, and was adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley. There are many variations of the story. Here is a simple one:
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement. She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!” The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.
The world seems scary at times, and for good reason. I know I’m not the only one who asks the question, “Is it worth it?” from time-to-time. As I thought about the Starfish Story and Diane’s words, I noticed my girl, Barker Posey, sitting directly in front of me, gazing into my eyes. She crept closer, resting her head on my knee. I gently pet her head, feeling her body relax into my legs.
The door opened and Diane and Vito came back into our apartment. Per usual, Barker jumped on Vito and they began to wrestle. Diane and I both watched them for a few moments, smiling.
Finally, Barker resumed her position at my feet while Vito joined Diane on the couch. I looked at Diane and again asked, “Is what we’re doing making a difference?” She smiled and I looked down at Barker resting her head on my leg and answered my own question. “Well, we made a difference to this one.”
It’s worth it.
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