Makes A Difference
"Loren Eiseley tells the story of a writer who is vacationing in
a hotel on the coast and decides to take a break from his work by strolling
along the sandy beach. In the distance, he spies a person whom he believes is
dancing, and is so intrigued he investigates further. As he approaches the
"dancer", he realizes it is a young man and he is not dancing, but throwing
objects from the beach into the ocean.
He gets closer still and discovers that the man is picking up starfish from
the beach, where thousands have been stranded by low tide, and is throwing them
back, one by one, into the ocean.
The writer asks the man why he is undertaking such a task and the man replies
that if he does not, the starfish will certainly die.
At this the writer scoffs and informs the man that there are miles and miles
of beach and tens of thousands of starfish and he can't possibly believe that
what he is doing will make a difference.
The young man pauses and gives thought to this observation. Then, picking up
another starfish from the beach, he tells the writer as he throws it back into
"It makes a difference... to this one."
"Some time ago, a scientist was filled with joy, because he taught a
fly how to do figures. The scientist told other scientists to come
and have a look. And so they came...The scientist asked the fly
:"Four times four?" And the fly tapped 16 times with its little paw.
Then he asked :"One plus one?" And again the fly gave the right
answer. This went on for some time and every time the fly gave the
correct answer. After a while, all the scientists returned
"Now", the scientist who was left behind with his fly, thought..."Now for the
next stage of my experiment." And he started pulling out all of the fly's little
paws. As soon as he pulled them all out he asked the fly again :"Four times
four?" Unable to do anything, the fly just laid motionless. Again the scientist
was filled with joy and said to himself :"See!? I knew it...A fly's ability to
hear is in its paws!"