June 20, 2007

I keep coming across various versions of the starfish story– you know the one where the young girl asks the old man why he keeps tossing starfish back into the sea- “because it matters for this one“.  It is suposed to be inspirational- and the first time I heard it it was, but it has started to really bother me (and only partly because it is so cheesy).

Maybe it’s just me but although I know that individual actions do matter to individuals, I wish someone would stand back and look at the big picture.  Why are so many starfish stranded in the first place?  Is there anything that can be done to stop them from washing up on the beach?  Surely it would be a more effective and efficient to prevent them becoming stranded than to be constantly throwing them back?  Now I’m sure some of them land there as the result of storms- natural events that dislodge them from their habitat, and for that reason there will always need to be someone there to throw them back.  But the basis of this story is the sheer number of starfish on the beach, and that sounds like more than just a natural occurance.  And if it is not a natural occurance than there is clearly a need for someone to stand back and look at the bigger picture, to find some answers that might prevent the tragic death of so many starfish.

These kinds of thoughts are why despite what I wrote in a very recent post, I am actually seriously thinking about more study.  I might be completely mad but I am considering doing a PhD.  Probably in Development Studies.  I am insatiably curious about the world and why it is the way it is.  I might have lost my youthful enthusiasm about saving the world but I do still want to make a difference.  Research, teaching, writing… these are the ways I think I can best contribute towards the bigger picture, and a PhD would be a big step towards being able to do that.

Oh, and one more thing.  Just throwing them into the waves seems to me to be a very random and possibly ineffective method of saving starfish.  Just how far or how hard do they need to be thrown to be safe?

Now just don’t get me started on the “teach a man to fish story”…

One Response to “Starfish”

  1. Janice Says:

    Very good points. Go for it – PhD….and please, DO start on the “teach a man to fish” I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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