Doing What I Can

ccea0a80061a847f5e13df5c84104a49In 1986, Nobel Peace Laureate Wangari Maathai addressed international educators who were gathered at a conference.  This is the story she shared:

One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and  powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.

This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, “Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.”

And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, “What do you think you are doing?” And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, “I am doing what I can.”

We are each given certain resources and abilities,  it’s up to us how we choose, if we choose, to use them for the betterment of our world and our fellow man.  And like the hummingbird knows, every drop counts.  Do what you can with what you have, you never know what can be accomplished.

And another thing, imagine what would have happened if all those animals had pitched in instead of standing around shaking their heads and complaining.   Imagine that.

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