Throwing starfish
August 23, 2014 4:54 PM   Subscribe

What are your associations with Loren Eiseley's "The Star Thrower"?

There are many versions of Loren Eiseley's "The Star Thrower," as the Wikipedia article suggests. An edited version is here. I'm aware that different versions of the story have been widely used, e.g. by inspirational speakers.

I would like to know what the different connotations of the differently edited versions are and what might be the average educated audience's associations with the story or parable. Is it associated with any particular religion, philosophy, organizational theory or school of thought?
posted by bad grammar to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It is one of the founding stories of City Year, an Americorps program.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:57 PM on August 23, 2014

A supremely abridged version of the story is what my graduate school (and many others in SoCal apparently) used for our education studies graduation ceremony. The "it matters to this one" mantra is commonly cited among teachers, too, IME.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:16 PM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

I've seen it a lot in sexual assault recovery and prevention work.
posted by jaguar at 9:49 PM on August 23, 2014

We sometimes use it with volunteers when they get overwhelmed by the immense U.S. prison system, and our Books To Prisoners program, which sends free books on request to individual prisoners. Thank you letters from inside do indeed support that it makes a difference to that one.
posted by kestralwing at 10:22 PM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Annoyance. It's been used in my personal experience to justify expensive interventions that serve a few instead of changes to systems that would help many and require more cost to the do-go older with less feel-good reward. If someone uses that story, I will predict them as likely to turn out to be shallow and self-centered, although I do know a few exceptions to that.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:34 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

I see a variation of it used by animal welfare groups a lot: "Adopting a dog may not change the world, but it changes the world for that one dog."
posted by Violet Hour at 12:37 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Makes me think of guest speakers at churches and high schools.
posted by jander03 at 12:07 AM on August 25, 2014

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