There once was an old man who liked to start his days by going for walks on a nearby beach. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed, and he found that the beach was littered with starfish as far as the eye could see.
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As he grew closer the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up a starfish, and then he would throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled, and said, “It made a difference to that one.”