Have you ever seen the movie, Pay It Forward? It stars Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment and it chronicles the launch of a goodwill movement.
Set in Las Vegas, the story centres around a social studies teacher who assigns his junior high school class with a very interesting project. He tells his students to think of an idea that will change the world for the better, and then put it into action.
When one young student creates a plan for “paying forward” favours, he not only affects the life of his struggling single mother, but he sets in motion an unprecedented wave of human kindness which, unbeknownst to him, then blossoms into a profound national phenomenon.
While the movie received mixed reviews due to its controversial subject matter, it affected me and the way in which I live my life.
Many people that I am close to, including friends and family, have told me they have “paid it forward” by paying for a random person’s order in a drive-through queue. They simply ask to pay for the person’s order and I have yet to hear of a cashier refusing such an incredible display of the honourable human spirit. I personally have helped a stranger cover the cost of an item at the grocery store that would have otherwise had to be put back.
In the movie, items such as an entire car were offered to strangers at no cost due to the goodwill movement created by the fictional 12-year-old character and it caused me to consider just how much more beneficial a gifting society could be.
While current societal norms and customs govern gift exchanges, a gifting society can help form a more connected community.
A green society is a prosperous one. It is loving, generous and compassionate. It considers the needs of those less fortunate and is what we can achieve with fundraisers to help support those in need, like the folks who lost their homes in wildfires this year just outside of Komarno, or the families that lost their children in the horrific bus accident that took the lives of 16 and injured 13 on July 6, earlier this year. The Bronco’s GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign set a national record by raising over $15 million, and blood donations increased by as much as 25% in some cities in Western Canada after the crash. According to CBC, 3,071 Albertans registered as organ donors in a single weekend, compared to the province’s weekly average of 425, after the horrific incident.
There are many in our own communities who would benefit from someone “paying it forward”. So while you are thinking about what to buy for someone that has everything, maybe consider making a donation to a local charity the next time you can’t decide what to buy for a loved one who may not need anything more than your time.
Paying it forward doesn’t have to be just a movie title. It doesn’t have to be just for those that come from impoverished countries. It could honestly be a movement to help reclaim our own humanity by starting at home, in our own backyards.