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A young man was walking down a deserted beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a frail, old man. As he approached the old man, he saw him picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea.

 

The young man gazed in wonder as the old man again and again threw the small starfish from the sand into the water. Finally he asked the old man, “Why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be such a waste of time?”

 

The old man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun.

 

“But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish!” exclaimed the young man. “How can your effort make any difference?”

 

The old man looked down at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it back into the sea, he said, “It makes a difference to this one.”