Pay it Forward

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Recently
my wife brought home a movie staring Haley Joel Osment (A.I.),
Kevin Spacey (The
Negotiator
, Usual
Suspects
), and Helen Hunt (Twister,
As
Good As It Gets
) called Pay
it Forward
from our local library. The premise of the movie
was quite interesting. In a nutshell, Kevin Spacey plays a social
studies school teacher that gives his class an assignment. The assignment
is to think up an idea that could change the world around you. One
of his students, played by Haley Joel Osment, comes up with a rather
interesting and plausible idea.

His
idea was to DO something for someone who was a complete stranger
that would make a solid impact on their lives. After you had done
that something, the person who had received the gift was to “Pay
it Forward” (instead of paying it back) by doing something for 3
other people that would make an impact on their lives. As usual,
a good movie like this was put on the do-not-promote list by someone
in Hollywood and it never really received the exposure it should
have. Maybe since the premise was a threat to the teat of the government
welfare state, that in itself could have been a problem. For you
see throughout this movie man’s ability to be good to one another
without someone forcing him with a gun.

What
I have found out is that the principle of giving rather than receiving
pays the giver off many times just in the good feeling he receives
by helping someone. Good feelings are good for your health and well
being. I can’t count the times I have helped a stranded motorist,
because of my mechanical abilities, and walked away feeling good
about what I had done. I have always turned down monetary compensation
and said to the recipient…”If you see someone stranded, try to
help them.” A sort of “Pay it Forward” in itself.

You
see, giving from the heart is what true welfare and charity is all
about. On the individual level the act of giving is very beneficial
to the giver as well as a person or family who is truly in need.

Though
the movie stressed doing something that would be life changing for
the individual receiving it, (and it surely was for the young reporter
who saw his car get smashed and then was handed the keys and title
to a brand new Jaguar), we as individuals would make the world a
lot better around us by taking the incentive to help one another
in little things as well as big things. Today, most of us don’t
even KNOW our next-door neighbor’s name. Let’s first start by finding
that out!

Take
this instance… a friend of mine who received an unexpected astronomically
high thousand dollar plus repair bill on her van had the bill anonymously
paid by someone to the shop. I know that my friend was so shocked
as well as the repair shop that just the shock alone had to pay
something to the giver of the funds for the van repair. The giver
in this instance knew about her situation (five children, and a
family income of less than $15,000 a year at the most) and was willing
to help the way he or she was best able. And whoever it was didn’t
want anything in return from my friend. She was then able to transport
her five children around again and go back to work. I feel that
instead of giving so much to the ORGANIZED CHURCH in the way of
“tithes” we should be spending more time giving to the unorganized
church of this world and helping one another through our daily trials.
Could you imagine if a stipulation was that my friend had to Pay
it Forward to three people? Who knows where that could go.

You
cannot force from someone at gunpoint a feeling of goodness about
being robbed. Another plus is as givers we can CHOOSE who we want
to bestow our giving on rather than someone else choosing for us
a person that is unworthy of any gift because they refuse to work
or try to support themselves on their own first.

What
if we each went out this week and started our own Pay it Forward
program. Do you realize that if just one person did it and the three
beneficiaries did it that within no time everyone on Earth would
benefit? I know the great feeling of giving because of Habitat for
Humanities. I plumbed three of their projects in the place most
folks call Washington State. To see a family benefit from my gift
of labor was a good feeling. They were total strangers to me, yet,
they were my fellow citizens of God’s Kingdom. They had a need I
was able to fulfill and the gratitude they showed was enough to
last until the next time.

How
about it? Where can we start…how about the little old lady down
the block on a fixed income that is having to have her lawn mowed
for $50 a pop? Maybe if you could afford an hour a week and have
a lawn mower and gas you could save her that $50 and consider putting
$50 less in your ORGANIZED church coffers! Think about the possibilities…I
can think of many. Another friend of mine has a sister who had just
paid off her Chevy Blazer, decided to drop her collision insurance
and the very next day rolled the Blazer and totalled it. Surely
someone who is wealthy could totally flip her out by buying her
something she could drive and she would Pay it Forward as part of
the deal. The field is wide open for ideas.

I
have heard of instances where people were bringing water, food,
generators etc. down to Florida during the aftermath of all those
hurricanes GIVING them away! I don’t know if it was true or not,
but I suspect if we could look into the hearts of many folks who
live in this country that you would find a stifled spirit of giving.
After all, if 50% of what you earn is STOLEN to “give” to someone
else, what is your incentive to give on your own?

I
think the premise of the movie Pay It Forward was a very plausible
kingdom principle that could work, for every act we do to help one
another takes power from the Nanny State.

What
do you think?

October
13, 2004

Mark
Reynolds [send him mail]
is a web site developer residing with his wife and four boys in
the place most folks call Arkansas.

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