We need the healthy idealism reflected in the parable of the starfish. One single act has value even in a sea (or in this case, beach) of hopelessness.
But we also need the wisdom reflected in the parable of the river. We must not fight the problem, but find the source of the problem. (Reminds me of the Dom Helder Camara quote: “I feed the poor, I’m called a saint. I ask why the poor have no food, I’m called a communist.”)