Last year I authored a Social Issues thread on Paying It Forward. I was always familiar with
the idea, but I thought it was a great idea to author a thread where members could gather to discuss some of their personal experiences with this
phenomenon. I think it was a great success and I recommend it to anyone. Certainly a great read, and still wide open for anyone to offer a
But my intentions here with this thread are to discuss my own personal movement with "Paying It Forward".
I've mentioned a few times that I am facilitating different workshops with a non-profit organization working with high risk youth. Some of these
individuals lack the basic "get up and go" attitude that we need in our day to day life. I've done a few presentations with them over the last few
weeks, and I am finishing up this week. I am doing three this week, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. A bit of an undertaking, but I am looking
forward to it.
I thought it was a good idea to present the idea of Paying it Forward and see what they thought. If it is accepted with an open mind, I may ask a few
to openly participate in this. The individuals who agree, and myself, will go out and perform three random acts of kindness for complete strangers.
Whether or not the recipients do their end of the bargain, it really does not concern me. What I am interested in is how this will impact the clients
I am working with.
Will a little bit of altruism be the kick in the ass that these guys need?
Looking at issues from the community angle, will this be the first time they seen something from an angle that did not directly benefit themselves? I
don't think they'll fully understand why they should help someone if they are not going to receive something in return initially, but I am damn sure
that by the end of this, they will understand and they will be willing to go the extra mile.
I'm going to volunteer a few hours a week to come in and meet with these guys to see how things are going, and see if an opportunity has arrived
where they could help someone out. I'll ask how it made them feel, if they would of done something different, and other questions to engage their
thoughts and feelings on it.
These are individuals who have been oppressed at every corner of life. One guy was telling me yesterday how much fun he had yesterday because he got
to go to McDonald's for a Big Mac. A twenty year old man could not of been happier because he ate a Big Mac. That is an indication of how deprived
they can be at times. It kills me to see people like this.
If I can inspire these ten individuals to go out and help other people, for no other reason than it was the right thing to do, it will reinforce my
own notion that things can change, and that thing's don't have to be the way they are.
In a time when we are inundated with the same crap over and over, I personally think it is a good idea to "stop and smell the roses".
Ferris Bueller said it best, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
This is me saying to hell with racism, prejudice, and all of this other negative crap. I am standing up and saying, "Let's help our fellow man for
absolutely no reason!" That is a Social Issue that I would love to discuss.
I find you awesome. This is an amazing effort towards improving society, and it DOES work in one way or another.
For all those people who only think about paying it forward, or for all those who say "i'm not gonna do it cuz those people wont pass it on", thats
the kind of attitude that brings society down. Sometimes we dont have to have a reason to do good things.
Thoughts are things. And if we are thinking good things than good things will come to us and the world around us.
I've been thinking about this all morning and how I am going to present it tomorrow. Something struck me that I've never fathomed previously.
How many times has someone "Payed It Forward" for us, and we did not even acknowledge it?
Think about it, something as simple as someone opening a door for us and greeting us with a pleasant smile could be someone trying to "Pay it
Forward". And do we actually acknowledge these gratuities, or do we just smile, nod, and keep on walking? I know I've done it before, but how
often is beyond me.
Maybe it's not just about doing it ourselves, maybe a big part of this is being aware of who may be doing it around us.
The presentation is tomorrow, so I'll keep everyone informed.
I've thought about this a little bit more today, and I thought of a good idea on how to present the pros and the cons of this phenomenon. People are
skeptical. If someone is trying to do something for us, we quickly assume their is an ulterior motif. This quick resentment would certainly be
enough for individuals to say, "the hell with this!" Now it is this that we need to overcome.
Tomorrow I am facilitating a six hour work shop with the clients, and I thought of a good idea for lunch. I think I'm going to take them all down
the road to a pizza shop for lunch. When we go in, I'm going to give the guy at the counter a few extra bucks, and tell him that the next two or
three people that come in, tell them that their food has been paid for. If we do two, I want him to let one person know that the group over there
paid for it already, and then the other one I do not want them to be informed.
The reaction of the two are what we are going to judge. I assume that the individual who is none the wiser will react pleasantly and be overly
satisfied that a complete stranger was so generous. It is the reaction of the next individual that will tell us a lot. I'm curious if they will
come over and question our motif, or even attempt to repay our gratuity.
Why is it that when someone does something for us, we immediately think we need to pay them back?
Someone invites you over for dinner... do you need to repay the favor? Is there a burden in accepting any form of generosity? I don't think so.
On top of this little "scheme", I'm going to ask that each one of them perform one good deed for a complete stranger in the next two weeks. After
the two weeks is up, I'm going to schedule a sit down with all of us and see what has transpired. I want to see what each of them have done, who
they have helped, and how it made them feel. It's quite possible that none of them will do a damn thing, but I think the juice is worth the squeeze
on this. If they go for it, great! If not, then I'll consider it a valiant effort on a worth while task.
I contemplated giving each one of them $5 or $10 each and seeing who can manage to do the most good with it, but I feel that most of them would just
pocket it. And honestly, I don't think I blame them. I need to reiterate that I am dealing with individuals who are not in the best economic
states. They come from rough backgrounds and have lived a rough life. But if I can manage to get these individuals to help out complete strangers
for absolutely no reason, the possibilities are endless for those who actually have a nickel and dime to spare.
Why is it that when someone does something for us, we immediately think we need to pay them back?
I didn't know that phrase was so popular that there is an official acronym for it.
It is very sad that people can't just accept a gift, that really, really has no strings attached.
I think you're right about reactions..That the one's who don't know with treat that lack of knowledge as an additional gift.
And those who DO know, will wonder, what's the catch?
I've been laboring over this post for a day now and I finally believe the time has come to just put my head down and express my thoughts and feelings
for how this day went. Honestly, it was everything I had hoped it would be and then some. But at the same time, it was nothing to what I expected.
Not sure if that makes sense or not, but I was taken back quite a bit.
I took a slow approach to the issue at hand. I did not come roaring through the door screaming some altruistic jargon. I tried to gain their trust,
which I believe I have over the past few weeks, and talk about a few issues that mean a lot to me. I began chatting about a few random acts of
kindness, and the importance of these in our society. I posed a few questions about how society accepts these individuals, and whether or not we can
actually accept an act of kindness, or if we feel some sort of obligation to immediately repay the gratuity. I introduced the
Free Hug Campaign and wanted to hear everybody's thoughts on it. Most were a little skeptical at first, and were
unsure of his motif. After watching a video on it, and discussing it, they felt that it was something remarkable, but they probably would avoid
Empathy with these individuals was a serious hurdle, and I seen it right from the get go. I had talked about how we are all connected and that even
complete strangers deserve our respect and courtesy. Most disagreed and didn't see why. I'm not sure how, but the events of September 11th came
up, and I was really taken back at how they reacted to this theme. Of the 10 clients, six or seven did not blink an eye. The loss of thousands of
lives in one day did not have them thinking twice. "Not me, Not my problem!" Now I refuse to judge these individuals because they are a victim
themselves. But rather than engage them on their lack of empathy, I decided to introduce them to
For those of you who do not know who Kevin is, I direct your attention to the YouTube video below.
Now, after watching this, most were speechless. Those who were able to talk, they were broken up. One guy, who is as tough as a yes sirree, yelled
at me for showing him that as he wiped a tear from his eye. I had overcome the empathy battle. Suddenly all of the complete strangers of the world
had a face, and they understood they had a story. They finally figured out how important it was to treat people with a degree of common courtesy.
Now.... Now... it was time to bring on "Pay It Forward". Most have heard of it due to the film, and most knew a little bit about it. None of them
ever considered taking part, but they all agreed it was a noble cause. In an attempt to turn this theory or jargon into something concrete, we spent
our lunch time in the pizza shop down the road. We grabbed a slice of pizza, a can of pop, pulled up a seat and watched the unsuspecting recipients
of Pay It Forward roll in. As much as I watched the faces of the individuals who walked through the door, I watched the faces of the clients I was
working with, and each one of them were pleasantly surprised to see how a small act of generosity could really brighten a face. Most of them kidded
that they were going to follow me into the store to get the free slice themselves, but they were just as interested to see how this played out as I
I changed my mind and didn't want anyone to know who had bought the slice for them, just asked the man at the counter to notify them that someone
individual had been in and requested that he pay for the slice of pizza for the next person to come in. The initial confusion consumed them, which
quickly faded into happiness, and just had them standing a little taller. It was fun to watch, and we all had a good laugh over lunch. We finished
up our grub and headed back to the board room.
When we got back, I asked everyone their thoughts and opinions and whether or not they thought it could actually make a difference, or did I just
waste my money. They all agreed that it was money well spent, but they were unsure if it actually made a difference. I did not push the idea onto
them any further, and I only asked that if they ever find themselves in a position to help a complete stranger, be sure to take full advantage of it.
No obligation to help anyone, just plant a seed in their mind that everyone deserves our respect and courtesy.
I think we made a lot of progress over the course of six hours, even if this Pay It Forward movement isn't going to consume the world.
Hi Chissler. I wanted to give your post the attention it deserved so I waited till now to read it. I cried like a baby at the Free Hug thing. I had
never heard of it before.
It sounds like your campaign is very successful so far. I know there are little things I've learned through my life that have stuck with me forever.
I'm certain some of your clients will be forever touched by what you're teaching them.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and I look forward to hearing anything more about it.
I wish you all the luck in your program because we need people like you in many communities in this country.
I had worked with children from grade school to high schools, one thing I noticed right away is how hopeful children are when they are young, but by
the time the reach high school many things starting at home take away much of that hope.
This content community relies on user-generated content from our member contributors. The opinions of our members are not those of site ownership who maintains strict editorial agnosticism and simply provides a collaborative venue for free expression.