We can make a difference – article published in the Gazette & Herald newspaper – May 2013

Posted on June 5, 2013 by Categories: Charity, Chippenham, Wiltshire Tags: , , , , ,

We are living in turbulent times. The conventional family unit is breaking down. Communities are breaking down. Neighbours are strangers to each other.

Human nature has conditioned us to be blinkered. We wander around in a safe bubble and we won’t allow ourselves to witness anything that occurs within our periphery vision.

We fear others. We are taught at a young age not to speak to strangers. We become prejudiced and small minded, solitary and withdrawn.

We learn to mistrust the politicians. We have no faith in those who are our leaders, those who are meant to guide us, educate us, and keep us safe.

Our priorities develop into those concerned with materialistic needs. We are constantly bombarded with images of consumerism, and in our world the media moguls are the new gods.

Economically, the division between the rich and the poor is getting wider. The utopian concept of a world with social equality is becoming more and more distant.

And yet, no man is an island. There is still hope. In every county, town, village and street there are those who still have hope. A hope that by uniting with others they can continue fighting the battle to break down the barriers that separate people and build strength within their communities.

The strength to form, and manage, small charities and organisations, like Doorway, with the sole purpose of spreading that hope and a sense of purpose to those who are most vulnerable and marginalised within our communities.

The original Star Thrower story, by Eiseley, has been adapted over the years but its powerful message remains the same:-

One day an old man was walking along the beach. It was low tide and the sand was littered with thousands of stranded starfish that the water had carried in and then left behind. The man began walking very carefully so as not to step on any of the beautiful creatures.

Since the animals still seemed to be alive, he considered picking some of them up and putting them back in the water, where they could resume their lives.

The man knew that the starfish would die if left on the beach’s dry sand, but he reasoned that he could not possibly help them all, so he chose to do nothing and continued walking.

Soon afterward, the man came upon a small child on the beach who was frantically picking up one starfish after another and throwing them back into the sea.

The man stopped and asked the child “What are you doing?”

 The child replied “I am saving the starfish. The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die.”

 “But why are you wasting your time?” argued the man, “Do you not realise that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You cannot possibly make a difference.”

 Without hesitation, the child bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it back into the sea, saying, “It made a difference for that one.”

 The old man looked at the child and thought about what she had done. Inspired, he joined her in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.

Because each of us has the ability to, collectively, make a difference in the lives of others. In such turbulent times as these, when so many people in our local communities feel alone and small and vulnerable, we are all able to make a lasting impact.

It’s not about saving the entire world, it’s simply about making life just a little bit easier for someone else. Someone else who is having a tougher time than you. And in order to achieve that you, yourself, need to still have a hope for the future of our communities.

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