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The "Pay It Forward" Bumper Sticker

Updated on May 29, 2013

“One act of kindness can change everything.” --Pay It Forward Foundation

“There is no such thing as can’t.” --Christopher Reeve

“The only time you should look down at someone, is when you are helping them up.” --Jesse Jackson


The Power of Kindness

Last Friday while driving our car, my wife and I spotted a “Pay It Forward” bumper sticker on the back window of a truck. I know it sounds crazy, but I get excited when I see bumper stickers like these. I don’t feel so alone. There are other people in the world like me that want to make a difference. On our little Chevy Aveo, we have three bumper stickers: Coexist, Compassion, and Tolerance.

The Coexist bumper sticker was purchased from an amazing spiritual center in Corona, California, while the Coexist and Tolerance stickers were purchased from the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, California. For those that do not know about the museum, it is a place that shares very important information about the Holocaust. My wife and I got a chance to hear firsthand experience of a woman that was in one of the concentration camps during World War II. At the time, she was only a little girl; however, she remembers the experience as clear as day. I cried when she told her story to us. I could not imagine what it must have been like for millions of people that were in those camps. Many of these beautiful souls never made it out. What could drive people to kill their fellow brother and sisters?

When people buy into the illusion of separateness, it can lead to all sorts of crazy things, such as war and genocide. In truth, we are all One. There is no separation. Spiritual masters knew this truth thousands of years ago, while modern science, such as Quantum Physics, is finally grasping this important truth. There is no separation between the observer and the thing observed.

In a groundbreaking experiment, scientists took an electron and cut it into two equal parts. They shot both parts down opposite ends of a fiber optic cable. What amazed the scientists was the fact that whatever they did to one electron the other electron that was on the opposite side of the fiber optic cable mirrored the other electron exactly. How is that possible? They are on opposite sides of the cable. The reason is due to the fact that they are not separated. They are still connected. The same is true of us.

We appear to be separate from one another, but in truth, this appearance of separation is nothing more than an illusion. Those that play the “fear game” want you to accept this belief as absolute fact. It creates disunity. And when driven to extremes, it creates all sorts of horrific acts. Take a look at all the wars and genocide of the last century. It doesn’t have to be this way, my friend. We have the power and ability to write a beautiful story in which love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are the way of life.

After looking for jobs on Friday, my wife and I decided to head back to Riverside. My wife spotted an advertisement of a new coffee shop. And within a few minutes, we found the place. My eyes caught a sign in front of the coffee shop. The sign said, “Brew It Forward.” I wondered what that was. There was mention of free coffee for firefighters, teachers, volunteers, and so forth. Being curious, I had to know what “Brew It Forward” meant.

The nice lady behind the counter informed my wife and me that “Brew It Forward” was a way to purchase a coffee for those mentioned on the sign. She also said that you could purchase a coffee for the next customer in line. How wonderful is that! Imagine walking into the coffee shop ready to purchase your cup of Joe, and the person behind the counter informs you that your coffee is free. It was purchased by a fellow coffee lover. The employee also pointed out that the concept of “Brew It Forward” was thought of by a customer. Wow! How many companies utilize ideas by their customers?

Being caught up the idea of “Brew It Forward” and also having seen the “Pay It Forward” bumper sticker, I decided I wanted to be a part of this beautiful act of kindness. I purchased a cup of coffee for the next customer. I did not want the customer to know who bought it. I was only thinking about the reaction on their face: “Free coffee?” Thinking about this, I smiled.

Personal Thoughts about Paying It Forward

Paying it forward is something that I resonate with. Having been inspired by so many beautiful souls in this world, I show my gratitude to those that have touched my life by trying my best to inspire others. My personal philosophy is to inspire, educate, empower, and bring healing to the world. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than knowing that I brought a little sunlight and meaning into someone’s life.

There are a lot of great films that demonstrate the spirit of “paying it forward.” The character Charlie Bucket in the film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” is a child that lives in extreme poverty, but is one of kindest souls in the world. He wouldn’t think twice to give you the shirt off his back. Despite being poor, Charlie comes from a very loving home, and radiates this love to others.

Another example of “paying it forward” is demonstrated in many of the films that Tom Hanks was in. Take for instance, the film “Forrest Gump.” Here, we have an individual with a low IQ, but goes on to do extraordinary things. He doesn’t think twice to rescue his friends during the Vietnam War. He sticks to his word of helping his friend Bubba with his dream of running the shrimping business.

We also see this philosophy in the film “The Terminal.” Tom Hanks plays a character by the name of Viktor Novorski who is from an eastern European country that goes to the United States to finish collecting autographs of famous jazz artists for his father that had passed away. Due to certain circumstances, Viktor is stuck at the airport terminal. His amazing act of kindness was his helping of a Russian man that needed to get some prescription drugs to his dying father.

A third example of “paying it forward” is seen in Mr. Hank's film “Larry Crowne” that he co-wrote and directed. Larry Crowne, played by Tom Hanks, is laid off from his job because he doesn’t have a college degree. Not able to find employment, he decided to enroll in college. Larry meets people that offer to help him. In return, Larry touches people’s lives in unimagined ways, including his instructor, played by Julia Roberts. I see all these characters played by Tom Hanks as similar to a stone that is thrown in a lake. Its effects spread in all directions. All are touched by his acts of kindness.

The film “Life is Beautiful” shares, yet, another demonstration of the power of “paying it forward.” In the second half of the movie, Guido (Roberto Benigni), his wife, and son are placed in a concentration camp during World War II. Guido does whatever he can to share his love with his family. At the end of the film, Guido sacrifices his life to save his son. As the narrator, the son shares to the audience the amazing things his father had done for his family. The son was one of the rare few that walked out the concentration camp alive.

Random Acts of Kindness

"Life is Beautiful" Trailer

Being a Participant; Not a Bench Warmer

Personally, life is much more interesting as a participant. Sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the world to change, does not get you anywhere. Gandhi said it beautifully:

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I also remember a powerful statement that a Christian university professor shared:

“Faith without works is as useless as a screen door on a submarine!”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in prayer and meditation; however, it is also necessary to take action. As Dr. Ledwith has stated in one of his videos,

“Jesus is not going to eat your lunch for you.”

Life requires participation on your part. Martin Gore, the songwriter for the British synthpop band Depeche Mode, also shares the importance of action:

“Don’t stand there and shout it

Do something about it”

If you want to see more love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness in the world, you must be the Shining Star. Be that which you want to see in the world. Set the example. Sitting around complaining doesn’t get you anywhere. Follow the wise words of Jesus:

“Be a light onto the darkness and curse it not.”

In my writing, “paying it forward” is a common theme in many of my writings. “Mr. Clean,” “Nightmare,” “A Christmas Day to Remember,” “The Gift of Love: A Short Story,” are a few examples of this philosophy. If there is something that touches your heart, pass it on to others. We are not going to change the world by living in a vacuum. It’s time to get off the bench!

Sharing with others is what it’s all about.


Pay It Forward Foundation

Riverside Coffee House with "Brew It Forward"

Electronic band "Deep Forest"


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    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you ctbrown7. I greatly appreciate the nice comment. You are absolutely right. Every kind act is making a difference in the world. Every person we touch is worth more than all the gold in the world. Every kind comment makes my heart smile and my soul sing.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent hub to read. Paying it forward can make a difference one person at a time.

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      It's good to see you Tony. Thanks for stopping by. It would be nice to get together and chat.

      It's nice to hear about your paying it forward adventures. It does feel good to do a kind deed for another. I smile just thinking about it.

      It's cool that you see the Coexist Bumper Sticker's too. One of these day I may get a t-shirt too. :)

      Your welcome Tony. Thanks for all you do as well!

    • TKs view profile image

      TKs view 

      6 years ago from The Middle Path

      Hi, Terry. Been a busy last few weeks for me, so trying to get caught up on reading hubs.

      This is another quality hub. Some day, if I'm in the neighborhood, we'll have to get together and chat. Love the pay it forward concept. Have done it many times on toll roads, entering National Parks and one time at a crowded restaurant, a man in the Armed Service, offered me and my ex-wife to share their table. Turns out, he had just come back from Iraq. I reciprocated by covering his and his girlfriends tab. Felt wonderful.

      Also love the Coexist Bumper Sticker. I've seen a few in my neck of the woods.

      Thanks for all you do!

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks mljdgulley354. Your mom was wise. The things we do not like are opportunities for us to do something about it.

      Thanks for sharing this important message with us.

    • mljdgulley354 profile image


      6 years ago

      Beautiful hub Terry. My mom used to tell me actions speak louder than words. We can complain, talk or just observe something but if we don't do something it won't make a difference.

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you very much Au fait. I appreciate your comment. The article was written from the heart. It is a wonderful place to connect with one another.

      Thanks for voting the hub Up and awesome!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      6 years ago from North Texas

      I love your attitude. Everyone needs to read this hub and take it to heart.

      Voting you UP and awesome!

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      I love the Brew It Forward idea as well. The coffee shop is located in the Albertson's shopping center at the corner of Van Buren and Lincoln. At the bottom of my article is a link to their website.

      That's cool that you were thinking about Paying it Forward too. I think it is beautiful that you helped lift the spirits of your friend. This makes my heart smile. It is amazing the power of a kind gesture. It does feel good to make a difference in someone's life.

      Thank you very much for your kind words. I try my best to bring inspiration to people's lives. I have been inspired, and still am being inspired, by amazing souls.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 

      6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      I love the idea of Brew It Forward and I think that introducing that is going to give them some outstanding press. In fact, I think when we are up in Riverside next time, I am definitely going to have to stop in a Brew It Forward as well! :)

      I was just thinking about the whole Paying it Forward last week. A friend on Facebook mentioned it and I thought, I wonder what act of kindness I can do that will make the difference for somebody else. I found out later about a friend who was having a really bad day. I won't get into much about it, but she wasn't feeling too good about herself and her situation. Anyway, knowing my profession, I thought I would give her a little pick me up. We went and picked out some colors and I gave her a complete makeover. She looked amazing. It was something she had never done for herself before. I was able to provide it because of my training. I never felt so good about doing someone else's hair before. I know it helped her a lot.

      Thank you for Paying it Forward all the time. You truly are an inspiration!

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you very much Seek-n-Find. I absolutely love your idea. We not only get a chance to help our fellow Hubbers, but we are making the world a better place at the same time. Way to go!

      I'm thrilled for being the inspiration for your idea. I am quite sure that your idea will work. It is working right now.

      There are a great many that are already showing their support for other Hubbers. I feel inspired by your idea as well as Vinaya's beautiful inspirational words.

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      Vinaya, I couldn't have said it more beautifully. Compassion has the power to transform our world.

      Your comment is very inspiring.

    • Seek-n-Find profile image

      Jenna Ditsch 

      6 years ago from Illinois

      Okay--here is one pay it forward idea...I created a forum for people to write about Hubbers they admire or like and then that person can write about another, etc, etc. Here's the link--thanks for being the inspiration for the idea! I hope it works. :-)

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      if we are compassionate we will be tolerance to different people, race, culture and societies. When we are compassionate and tolerant, we believe the importance of coexistence.

      Your ideas and point of view, both are very inspiring.

    • Terry27 profile imageAUTHOR

      Terry Fatland 

      6 years ago from Southern California

      My pleasure Seek-n-find. Thanks for stopping by. There are so many amazing things that we can do to transform our world.

      I'm glad I sparked an idea for you. That's what its all about. Take care.

    • Seek-n-Find profile image

      Jenna Ditsch 

      6 years ago from Illinois

      I love the idea of pay it powerful. I really like the coffee shop idea--I'm going to see if any of the coffee shops around here would do that! You also gave me an idea for a group project....hmmm...the wheels are turning. Thanks for writing!!!


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