Monday, December 12, 2011

Pay It Forward

   A while back there was a movie called “Pay It Forward.” I have never seen this post isn’t about that movie. However, it is about a derivative of the main idea of the story...the idea that a good deed or opportunity given, should be paid forward to another instead of back to the source. If only my posts were that simple...

   I was in a recent conversation (isn’t that how most of these get started?) about our society today and the idea was put forth that to build a better society, the children coming up need to be educated in the way of understanding the opportunities given to them...and pay back, by way of paying forward, the benefits they receive from the hard work of their parents. As a parent...this was starting to sound good already.
   I listened intently at the idea that was being shared, looking at the conversation as an opportunity to learn, and therefore improve, my own understanding of the world. Without recounting every detail, I’d like to pass on the most profound parts...and hope that sharing this, in some way, pays forward the opportunity I had to expand my horizon.
   It has been my experience that very few people volunteer for anything, unless it’s a chance to get he cost of nothing. We are a give and take society, with an emphasis on the “take.” Again, just my experience and I acknowledge that it’s not shared by everyone. It was, however, shared by the participant in my conversation.

  The offered solution for this was that children should be taught to volunteer. Specifically, to do so periodically in three ways:
1.) Volunteer for something that has a direct effect on your family or community. This will instill a very real and personal sense of self worth and drive home the reality that you are an important part of your surroundings. You matter...and the things you do impact those you care most about.

2.) Volunteer for something you always wanted to do, but never did. Too many times we let our dreams and gaol slip away without ever knowing if they were even something we really wanted. I always wanted to be a veterinarian...and volunteering at an animal shelter would have been an amazing experience as a young person thinking about entering that field. I would have found out much earlier that I’m not the animal guy I wanted to be.
3.) Volunteer for something that you really don’t like. It’s amazing, the self insight that can be achieved by willingly stepping outside your comfort zone. Just as it’s true that this process can reveal that we don’t like some things we thought we can also show that we like some things we thought we didn’t.
   The idea of all of this is that if a child is taught and continues this process early in life, that the result will be a better citizen in adulthood. I admit it sounds very good and seems like an enlightening process...but it remains to be proven until it’s applied on a large scale over a time. However, I remain optimistic that this idea is better than most..and have witnessed how “paying it forward” can be contagiously positive. 
Thanks for the conversation L.D.


  1. I think volunteering is a great idea, because it drives home the idea that there is more to life than making money. I'm a retired gymnastics coach, and during my career on several occasions I volunteered my services to a club or institution gratis, simply because I love the work and wanted to offer a helping hand.

    1. That is a message that needs to be driven home..."there is more to life than making money." The time you took to volunteer is irreplaceable to those that benefited from it...and the impact you had may have very well been more...profound...than was evident at the time...:-)