I was reminded – reading a recent news report about a Bluffton, South Carolina anonymous donor – that ‘paying it forward’ is an important aspect of generosity that is easily overlooked.
The Island Packet tells of an unidentified patron of the Corner Perk coffee shop who frequently hands over an additional $100 to the cashier, to be used to treat other customers to free drinks. This has been going on for a couple of years, and people often ask how they can repay their benefactor’s generosity: the staff apparently just tell them to “pay it forward”… i.e. to do a good deed to others, in turn.
“Paying it forward” has become a familiar concept in the world of altruism and philanthropy. Its origins can be traced at least back to ancient Athens, but in recent years it has spawned a film, a dedicated day, and even a complete charity.
“Paying it forward” needn’t necessarily involve large amounts of money or time – even little gestures can sometimes mean a lot, depending on who you are helping. There’s always someone worse off than ourselves, and it’s the thoughtfulness and kindness behind the act that really counts. As Mother Teresa said, “It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing that matters”.
By the way… this year’s ‘Pay It Forward’ Day is on Thursday the 26th of April: what will YOUR contribution be?