"One Does What One Can"

Different Stories, Common Themes

I heard these stories relayed by an African storyteller at an event I attended a few months ago. I can remember at the time thinking that these stories were very important and timely in terms of their message as it relates to my own life and work.. I’ve paraphrased them below to the best of my memory.

Here’s the First Story:

“One Does What One Can”

“While walking home one day, I came across a little bird lying in the road. It was on its back…its little feet stuck in the air. So I asked him: “why are you on your back, with your feet in the air?” The bird then said: “because I heard the sky is going to fall down.” After hearing what the bird said I laughed out loud as I told the bird: “and you think your little feet are going to hold up the sky?” After being silent for a moment, the bird then replied to me in saying “One does what one can.”

Here’s the Second Story:

“One day, there was a fire in the forest. Many of the animals stood around, some afraid, some confused as to what to do. There was a toucan who flew past the elephant, to the watering hole, cupped some water in his mouth, flew past the elephant and to the fire, and dropped the water in the fire.

“The toucan did this 3 times with no support as the elephant and the other animals stood by and watched. After watching the toucan pour the water gathered in his mouth on the fire for the fourth time, the elephant finally said “Wait! This is our community. We can’t let this little bird do it all alone. If we all work together, we can save our home.”

I can appreciate both of these stories even more recounting them a second time.

What meaning did you gather from these stories?

Wishing you Grace & Peace,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW



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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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