Pay it forward

Pay it Forward has been one of my all time favourite movies since I first watched it several years ago. Invariably I sob like a child at the end of it.  Every person I have ever enticed into watching it has also loved the movie.  Deep in my heart I believe it’s because it’s a story full of hope that inspires each of us to be better people.  The concept that altruism can inspire altruism until it circles the globe is both warming and comforting in a time when warmth and comfort are sorely needed by much of the general populace.  I love the idea of passing on a smile, that if you see someone who does not have a smile on their face you should give them one of your own. I freely admit to being one of those slightly odd people that will beam readily at total strangers in the street. You never know how far your smile will travel. I like to think mine keep going ad infinitum 🙂

I read a story in the news a couple of days ago that has weighed heavily on my heart. A woman was on her way home late at night and tried to catch the bus. She did not have quite the right change and was missing 20p. Not one person on the bus offered to pay the remainder of her fare and, rather than use his discretion, the bus driver forced her to get off. Less than half an hour later she was brutally raped and assaulted. For the sake of 20p.

I am no angel. I freely confess that at times I am quite selfish, but it is not entirely unknown for me to let others jump the queue in front of me, make a point of thanking people who are feeling underappreciated or pay fares for people stuck in a jam. I’ve given strangers the odd pound to make up their lunch money, train tickets, even bar and coffee bills. I would like to believe that if I had been on that bus that night I would have offered up the 20p to save that poor woman a long walk home on a dark and dangerous night. It got me to thinking about paying it forward, whether as a concept it would work or whether I am entirely foolish to hope that human nature is conducive to genuine altruism. If altruism is the exception rather than the rule, it could never work on a global scale.

Then I discovered Random Acts of Kindness ( http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/ ). I hear it is a movement that is gaining in popularity. All at once my faith was restored. I don’t know why I have such a deep-seated need to believe that the majority of humanity is made up of good and honourable people but, if ever I needed proof, here it is.

The smallest thing can be an act of kindness, even down to opening a door for someone just because you can, or donating books to the library, giving food to the homeless. I don’t often make resolutions because, on a scale of sways with the wind to immovable iron, my willpower doesn’t actually even register but today I found myself making a resolution. One small random act of kindness every day. It doesn’t have to cost, it doesn’t even have to be particularly meaningful, but one day, I hope, one of those acts of kindness might just make it around the world.

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