Archive for July, 2008

July 11, 2008

To most people, the biggest fear, ahead of roller-coasters and spiders and even death, is public speaking. That’s not my fear. Not that my heart isn’t thumping when I walk to the front of a crowded room and begin to speak. But though my voice may shake with nervousness as I begin, I thrive on public speaking. My biggest fear isn’t of speaking in public. It’s that when I do, no one will listen. That I’ll get up in front of a crowd of people and pour out my soul and back it up with facts, and it won’t make a difference. That I won’t make a difference.
There’s no reason I should feel this way. I’m politically active, head of peace club and an officer in Youth & Government. For all my life, when I’ve talked, people have listened. But what if they didn’t? What if nothing I do, or write, or say has any effect on the world?
Theres a story where a guy’s walking on a beach covered with starfish that have been washed up and will die from lack of water. The guy sees someone, either a young man or a little girl, picking up starfish and throwing them back into the water. “Why are you doing that?” the man asks. “There’s so many, you can’t possibly make a difference.” The person rescuing starfish picks one up and tosses it back into the oean and answers, “I made a difference to that one.”
But what if you don’t make a difference to that one? What if, as soon as it’s back in the ocean, an animal eats it, or another wave washes it right back up onto the shore? What if you go your whole life and nothing you do makes any difference to anyone?
It’s not that I don’t think I can make a difference. I know I can. Just like you know you won’t actually die from speaking in public and the spider’s more scared of you than you are of it and the rollercoaster’s not going to break.
But what if it does?