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Friday, September 11, 2009


"Unsung Heroes" of Peace

I have now posted my third blog on www.odysseynetworks.org for the UN International Day of Peace on September 21st and Odyssey's effort to have 1,000,000 people pause at 12:00 noon that day for a one minute prayer for peace. You can sign up for this effort on Odyssey's website.

This week’s question was: "Some of the world’s great peacemakers lead quiet lives unrecognized by the world at large. Have you encountered any of these “unsung” peacemaker heroes?"

Here is my blog response:


This question got me thinking about the story of the man on the beach and the starfish. You may have heard it in one of the many versions which are travelling around the internet. The basic story goes something like this:

“Once a man was walking along a beach. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Off in the distance he could see a person going back and forth between the surf's edge and the beach. Back and forth this person went. As the man approached he could see that there were hundreds of starfish stranded on the sand as the result of the natural action of the tide. The person was throwing the starfish from the beach back into the ocean, one by one. The man was stuck by the apparent futility of the task. There were far too many starfish. Many of them were sure to perish. As he approached the person continued the task of picking up starfish one by one and throwing them into the surf. As he came up to the person he said, "You must be crazy. There are thousands of miles of beach covered with starfish. You can't possibly make a difference." The person looked at the man. He then stooped down and pick up one more starfish and threw it back into the ocean. He turned back to the man and said, "It sure made a difference to that one!"” (Loren Eiseley from “The Star Thrower”)

Our communities (faith, municipal, school, work, neighborhood) are full of “star throwers,” people who try to make a difference, who do make a difference each day in small ways, helping others, bringing peace to their homes and schools and neighborhoods and local faith communities. Most of these people not only go unnoticed, they would rather be unnoticed. If you asked them why they are involved in their community, they would probably say something similar to the person in the starfish story – “It sure makes a difference for that one!”

I think of the volunteers who come to our congregation every Wednesday night to feed hungry people from our community. They have no interest in recognition for this ministry. The ministry alone is enough. They are able to give our dinner guests a sense of peace, at least for a short time, in their difficult lives. At the least our volunteers can send our guests out filled with good food (and a bag lunch for later). And, hopefully, a sense of peace. Our once a week meal won’t end hunger in our community, not by a long shot, but our volunteers know, “it sure makes a difference” for those they feed each week.

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