You Made A Difference For That One

He who passively accepts evil
is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.
He who accepts evil without protesting against it
is really cooperating with it.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Any time we speak out about the atrocities facing babies around us, we may face some backlash from those who refuse to acknowledge the damage they do to little ones by parenting in a detached, unprotective, or unloving manner. This may come in the form of violent birth, denying human babies human milk, leaving an infant to cry-it-out and sleep alone or 'sleep train'. Abuse may surface as genital cutting, or unresponsive parenting, leaving a child to sit as a "bucket baby" or be caged in a crib for the majority of their day, or simple refusal to learn why love matters. We cannot save all the babies and children (and future adults and society) out there from the pains and heartache and developmental problems that result from non-peaceful parenting. But whenever we share accurate information, whenever we speak up, whenever we defend those who do not yet have a voice for themselves and cannot yet defend themselves, we DO empower and equip and enable parents to make wise, conscious choices. And it is for this *one* who listens and invests in their innate mothering or fathering instincts that we continue to do the work we do.

Today, as I have been unable to save a newborn baby from the trauma that is genital mutilation in the United States, I encourage you to not become discouraged in your own work toward a healthier, happier, wiser, more peaceful world. Every single one makes a difference. And through each of YOU lives are changed every moment, of every day.

So don't be silent. And don't be discouraged.

Be brave. Be bold. Be smart. Be gentle.

And go love your little ones like you've never loved before! Because each one matters.

The Star Thrower by anthropologist and writer, Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied, "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they will die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

Note: This is a true story that Eiseley wrote about. He was the 'wise man' walking the beach before his morning writing session. He encountered this young man throwing starfish back into the ocean and was forever impacted by the experience. His story is told in many forms, in many places - but rarely is credit given to Eiseley as the original author and subject of the narrative.



  1. Yes, thank you!! So needed to hear this.

  2. Great post...comforting & inspiring :)

  3. What a great post Danelle :-) It really spoke to me!

  4. So many of us in the position that you were in today, where we were unable to spare *one* from unnecessary trauma (in all its various forms) wind up despairing and becoming depressed or let down. Thank you for remaining hopeful and for choosing to pass on a message of inspiration rather than a rant. It serves as a reminder to all of us not only to remember the *one* that we are helping but to also 'vent' hope in the face of challenges.

  5. I've done that before - thrown star fish back into the ocean. I've saved crabs from my dad's trap too because I thought he caught too many and that they would go to waste for nothing. But I don't as easily give myself a break for not being able to help every baby or mother I encounter who needs it, and whom I haven't been able to help. Thanks for this. It really made a difference.

  6. So true! I tell that to my friends who say they didn't know how to discuss circumcision, because the subject made them "uncomfortable." Overcome it! Throw that starfish in!

  7. thank you for that beautiful and compelling post. It's good to be reminded that even though we can't help everyone we do make a difference with every person we reach.

  8. What a good reminder! I have all my emails, letters and PMs saved of people who came back to thank me. I have one photo saved that was left on my doorstep. It's a photo of a little baby who was going to be aborted. Whenever I feel like everyone in the whole world is participating in this violence, I like to look at that photo and know I made a difference for someone, somewhere.

  9. Thank you for that... food for thought & a less daunting step forwards into leading life with bringing knowledge to everyone. One Starfish at a time!!!!

  10. Its hard to keep the faith sometimes. It seems that every one that reaches out for breastfeeding help is past their own point of no return (the point at which it would take more effort than they can or will put into it). That every woman you warn about unnecessary medical interventions goes down the chain that we all know so well.

    I just try to remind myself that I do it because it is in me to do. I would rather know in my heart that I tried, than know that I walked away -even if the person I reached out to doesn't hear it, or turns out to be a troll or con artist. My values tell me that its better to look a fool than miss one person who really did need help. And in then end its our actions and our own conscience we live with.

  11. Perhaps, on the day you wrote this, you were unable to stop one parent from having her child cut - some simply refuse to see the light. BUT on this same day, your blog and its resources helped me stop THREE.

    Thank you for your devotion, for all of the time and energy you put into Peaceful Parenting. I look forward to and appreciate each post. Your work, like ripples on the water, reaches farther than you could ever imagine.

  12. Thank you for this. It is so important to remain positive.xx

  13. Loren Eiseley was a beautiful mind who nowadays does not command the attention he deserves.

  14. Thank you Danelle =)

  15. I gave that story to my now husband when we first started dating. He's a family therapist and wants to help everyone.

  16. On my blog, where I post many political diatribes (I am a politician after all), along with all the rest I strive to share the NORMALCY of raising an attached child. Breast isn't "best", it's normal, it's the standard, everything else is sub-par. Co-sleeping isn't unusual, it's the natural choice. Babywearing isn't for the fringe, it is for the every day. People need to see these things as normal. They are normal. They need to be presented as normal.

    Tonight I shared the joy of co-sleeping with my three year old. It's perfect, it's natural, it's normal... and hopefully it will be read by one parent who is struggling with their choice, and it will reaffirm what they already know. That there is nothing better than holding your child close.

  17. Thankyou for this blog post... I really needed this today 9yesterday, actually, but it was great to read it today after my encounters yesterday)

    thankyou for the reminder and encouragement that for all the ones who we can't "save" there are some who we can, and we do... and that makes it all worth while :)

  18. I love the starfish story. I rescue dogs too, and read it whenever I feel like I'm not making a difference in that or with my birth work.

  19. Once while walking after it had rained there were hundreds of worms on the street. I picked up as many as I could and tossed them into yards.

  20. I needed this exact thing today! My sweet nephew was born this weekend and cut :( I'm devestated for him :( And I can't seem to let it go. I'm sure time will heal, but it is so hard to see things happen around you (friends and family) that you know is so wrong.

  21. I LOVE this post but, I do feel that the term, "abuse" may be a little extreme in the usage in regards to: "Abuse may surface as genital cutting, or unresponsive parenting, leaving a child to sit as a "bucket baby" or be caged in a crib for the majority of their day, or simple refusal to learn why love matters." I do believe that genital cutting, unresponsive parenting, "bucket baby" and leaving a baby in a crib all day are woeful acts but, it is the context of the matter. If a parent, who does the above mentioned things, does not know the harm they are inflicting on their child and the relationship with their child and themselves, is that abuse? I don't mean to be picky about it because those acts are so sad but, abuse is a strong word. As an individual who has lived through three different kinds of abuse and, who circumcised her Son without realizing the consquences and harm I was inflicting on my Son and our relationship, I just feel that the usage of the word abuse was slightly out of context. Otherwise, I really love this blog, the message, your dedication and being a part of this community of parents who care so much for their children and the children of others.

  22. I was feeling today, as I sometimes do, despondent.

    Despondent because infant, child and parent welfare is something so important and something I am so passionate about - I offer help and advice as much as I can (I'm studying Psychology focusing on Attachment and Continuum principles).

    But so often, I am on the receiving end of abuse simply because I dared to speak up about a better way or dared to link research.

    It's articles things like this that really help to refill my cup and remind me that if I help even just one baby, one child or one parent, it was worth it!

    Thank you and thank you again.

  23. I am a mental health advocate. Since my grand baby was born 7 months ago, I have become very passionate about advocating for the baby, the infant, the toddler, the child, the teenager. They are the future, they have no voice right now. They will. I also encourage to avoid trauma and just love your child. Each one of us will make a difference for the future world if we concentrate on our own. I love the star fish story.



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