What Would Happen If Everyone Paid It Forward?

My friend, Brent, told me an interesting story this morning.

Like most people who need that morning pick-me-up, you most likely wait anxiously for that sometimes bitter… sometimes cavity-breeding sweet, dark, hot, liquid crack.

When you see the barista pour the steamy (or frozen) concoction, it does something magical to your senses. It has a way of instantly waking you up and making you want to jump on a table and say, “I’m alive! I’m awake! And I’m ready to take on the world!”

For those of us who don’t indulge in coffee (such as myself), you’ll just have to pretend you know what it feels like to be falsely awake — it’s akin to being able to breathe with no air. And yes, I just channeled some Jordin Sparks for those of you who didn’t catch the reference. Haha.

Imagine for a second, that the person ahead of you wasn’t able to pay for their morning jolt. What would you do? Would you laugh? Would you ignore the situation? While I’d like to have complete faith in my fellow man, I feel that our society has become driven by self-motivated interests. We fail to look at the bigger picture. Our perspectives have, in a way, been blown out of proportion. These macro-size ideals overlook the details… the little things. For people like Brent, taking a more micro-size approach to a situation can prove to create the biggest impact.

You see, while the woman ran to her car to get cash (her card was declined), Brent moved into action and paid it forward. He selflessly gave of himself to help someone else without expecting anything in return. As a matter of fact, the exchange was so quick, that upon reentry into the store, Brent had already paid for the coffee, left the Starbucks, and the woman had no idea! And who says chivalry is dead?! :-)

Paying it forward is a simple concept. I had no prior knowledge of it until I saw the movie as part of Resident Assistant Appreciation Week. As part of the many things the university did for us, they treated us to a free, off-campus movie — Pay It Forward. While I don’t think it was a box office hit, it delivered a powerful message.

What would happen if everyone paid it forward?

After Brent told me about his experience, it made me think about other related concepts. If you’re still not quite sure what it means to “pay it forward,” here’s a definition: The expression “pay it forward” is used to describe the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instead.

During my year of service with City Year, we “put our idealism to work.” It’s a pretty profound slogan, and I didn’t quite understand its meaning then, but now… I totally get it. Among the many topics taught to us, we learned about “Ubuntu.” I’ve posted a few explanations/definitions of this concept below.

"Ubuntu is an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other. The word has its origin in the Bantu languages of southern Africa. Ubuntu is seen as a classical African concept."

And also…

Archbishop Desmond Tutu further explained Ubuntu as follows (2008): "One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity."

And to sum it all up: we’re all connected through humanity, and through that my humanity is tied to yours.

Powerful, right?

The other is the concept of “ripples.” In 1966 Robert F. Kennedy delivered his “Day of Affirmation Address” in Capetown, South Africa. Excerpting from it, he stated:

“Thousands of Peace Corps volunteers are making a difference in isolated villages and city slums in dozens of countries. Thousands of unknown men and women in Europe resisted the occupation of the Nazis and many died, but all added to the ultimate strength and freedom of their countries.

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Going back to Brent’s experience, whether he realized it or not, he created a tiny ripple. Hopefully, that woman will recognize the generosity of a complete stranger and emulate his actions for another complete stranger, and that stranger will then help another… and so on and so on…

A few months ago, I challenged myself to pay it forward every day for an entire month. I met my challenge, but I oftentimes wonder about the number of ripples I’ve created during my time here on Earth. I wonder how much impact they’ve had, or if I’ve unknowingly created a ripple that eventually became a wave.

I wonder what would happen if everyone paid it forward…

Submitted by Anonymous


Giving Back
Pass It On®
Pass It On®

  email

Your Comments

Here are some other inspiring stories you might like.
CHARACTER
MARJORIE W Marjorie W. grew up in a logging town in the mountains where she was expected to marry and spend the rest of her life taking care of her parents. After World War II, she was able to go to college and change her life's path. Despite leaving her little town, she never lost her core values. She was an honest,...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
KINDNESS
WENDY T Wendy was my wife of 4 years. We dated in high school, over 30 years ago. Eight years ago, we reconnected, and fell in love all over again. I quickly became attuned to why she was so special: Her kindness. I had never met anyone before, who showed as much kindness to everybody, as Wendy had. It wasn't one...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
HELPING OTHERS
SAWYER A. After learning about children and families in the poverty-stricken villages of Zambia; a country in south-central Africa, Sawyer Anderson wanted to help bring clean, safe water to the villagers. At age 9, Sawyer wrote and illustrated the book, Water Works, which is published in America, Vietnam (in Vietnamese)...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
A BETTER LIFE
MARC W My father immigrated to the US in the 1950s with his parents when he was a small boy. Holland was still recovering from the Second World War, and opportunities seemed limited. Adding to the economic challenges, my father was the product of a relationship that was scandalous for the time: my grandfather came from...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
COMMUNITY
MATTHEW M Matt was a shining example of what it meant to be a good person. He devoted countless hours to volunteering in the arts and helping his community and even more to the people he loved. He was brilliant, kind, funny, comforting, generous, ambitious, loving, witty, and so many other wonderful words that I could not...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
VISION
FRANCES P Frances Perkins (born Fannie Coralie Perkins; April 10, 1880 – May 14, 1965) was an American workers-rights advocate who served as the fourth United States Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the longest serving in that position. A member of the Democratic Party, Perkins was the first woman ever to serve in a...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
COMPASSION
CHARLIE SCHULZ My son, Charlie, was an inspiration to many during his 19 years on this earth. When Charlie was in 5th grade, despite what we learned later was severe social anxiety, their strong sense of what was right led them to circulate petitions among their 5th grade schoolmates and write and present a statement (through...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
CARING
TISH R My former wife is an amazing individual. She works as a behavior analyst, and has been helping injured others achieve a much greater quality of life. In one of my proudest specific memories, she facilitated a transition for a man who was in an ALF, brain-injured, from wearing diapers in a wheelchair to...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
BEING THERE
BK SAINI SAINI My husband helped me since he knew me since 1975. He is there for me every single day. He is so kind all the time. He took care of me during any need except not when he is at the job. He comes at home if any emergency arrives. For God’s grace he was never called till today. I still remember when our second baby...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
FAMILY
PAT C Next to his faith in God, the most important thing in my Dad’s life was his family; my Mom who was the love of his life, his kids, grandkids, great grandkids, brothers, and sisters. One of the ways he made life better for all of us and left his fingerprint on our lives was through the use of what I like to call...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
LORI R. In 2012 Lori, along with her then high school age daughter Shira, began to keep their vehicle filled with pet supplies to hand out to the pets living on the streets of Riverside, CA with their homeless companions. They would give out pet food, leashes, collars and water so the pets would be fed well and kept...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
COURAGE
WINSTON CHURCHILL Winston Churchill was a transformational leader who exemplifies courage and an absolute refusal to give up in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Churchill had the ability to understand the needs of others, listen to those around him, and admit his mistakes while never wavering from his ultimate goal. ...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
MENTORING
MISTY WELLS 5 Years ago Misty saw a need in children in Foster Care and she took action. For the past 5 years going strong Misty started a non profit called " A Reel Future" where she takes children in Group Foster Care fishing. She has single handed taken over 3,000 foster children fishing. She is showing them...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
WISDOM
JAHSEH O There are many heros I look up to, but Jahseh Onfroy helped me through the darkest times in my life. His music did not only help me but it helped countless people. When he spoke to us, it was always about growing and becoming better than what we are. I have learned many valuable lessons from him, and I constantly...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
PEACE
DANA W Grieving (Fly High Dana Wilson Jr.) On March 7, 2022 my only little brother passed away at home in his bed. This has been one of the hardest things to deal with. I dont think a day goes by that i dont find myself breaking down crying. I think my eyes are puffy did alot of crying yesterday..omg this is really...
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
BRAVERY
HARRIET TUBMAN Harriet Tubman freed 300 slaves she was so brave that is why she is my hero
SUBMITTED BY ANONYMOUS
Read Story
Where did your values come from?

We've all had people in our lives who have made a positive impact on us. A parent or grandparent, a sibling who was there for us, or maybe even just a guy who shines shoes for a living? Whoever they are, tell us their story so they can inspire us even more.

Tell Us Your Story All Everyday Hero Stories

We use cookies or similar technologies to process data when you visit our site. This data may relate to your use of our site, your preferences, your device, or other information about you. We and third parties may use this information for a variety of purposes, such as enabling the sites to function, to personalize your experience when using our sites, and for analytical purposes. Read our privacy policy and terms of use for details. close

Reject All Accept All