The "Pay It Forward" Bumper Sticker
“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
- A Christmas Day to Remember
For Jacob Selini, Christmas was only about the food. It wasn't until he met some extraordinary people that his view of Christmas changed. Love, compassion, and forgiveness were the missing ingredients of his Christmas story.
- The Gift of Love: A Short Story
It had been a little over a year since Stewart's wife had died. He felt like a part of him died when she left this Earth plain. It was not until an Earth Angel arrived in his life that he realized that his wife never really left; she had only changed
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"