by Allison Banta
The news is hard. The abortion ban in Texas. Hurricane Ida and the flooding in the northeast and a planet and climate in crisis. Taliban control of Afghanistan. School shootings. The Covid pandemic and the delta variant and mask mandate bans, and healthcare worker burnout.
Sometimes it all feels like too much.
It is too much.
Too much for adults.
Too much for kids.
And yet, here we are. Here we are in this world that we share, and there is too much heartache, too much grief, too much pain, too many disasters, too many wars, too much hunger, too much violence, too many refugees being displaced from their homes and countries.
Too much injustice.
When the news is too much and justice feels impossible, think smaller.
We watched the waves roll in on the beach today, and we played. My kids built castles and dug moats, and they dropped tiny mussels in, and tried to fill the moat with water, one small plastic bucket at a time. After a while, my five year old got frustrated. “This will NEVER work!” she yelled, tossing the bucket down in frustration. “I keep bringing buckets and the sand just drinks it right up! What about the mussels that need water? UGH!”
She sat down. I sat quietly beside her. I knew she felt defeated. She had worked so hard, and the sand drank every drop of water she carried.
In a minute, she asked – “how can we fix it, mom? We can’t carry the buckets fast enough!”
I told her she wasn’t wrong – Two people can’t overcome a beach full of sand. Her face fell. “We can’t get water to the castle.” she said. I shook my head, “Well, not with just two people, carrying it in buckets. But there are other things we can do. Can you think of anything else to try?” She thought a while, then shook her head sadly. “I just can’t carry the whole ocean.” From her spot nearby, her sister spoke up “Hey!” she said. “What if we just work together to dig the moat to reach the ocean? Then the water will have a path!”
And so, we did.
The water washed in, and the castle moat was filled, and they laughed and clapped and jumped in triumph.
This castle for the mussels will be gone tomorrow. The same waves that filled the moat will come in with the tide and wash the sand smooth again. I hope the memory holds longer. I hope they remember not to give up. I hope they keep carrying buckets until someone shows up to help them dig a reservoir. Even when it feels small.
I hope that when it feels impossible to carry the whole ocean, they look around and remember there is always someone else who believes the sand can be shifted.
Do something small.
We can’t all stop wars. We can’t all fight unfair laws in court. We can’t all stop every shooting and halt a pandemic and end homelessness and eradicate hunger.
But we can help.
The whole ocean can’t be carried in buckets. But the sand can be shifted.
We can fight injustice in a thousand small ways.
Choose one small thing and begin.