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Pay it forward

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Title: Pay it forward  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Robert A. Heinlein, Benjamin Franklin, Magnificent Obsession, Between Planets, Mark Boyle (Moneyless Man)
Collection: 1784 Introductions, Giving, Sociological Terminology
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Pay it forward

Pay it forward is an expression for describing the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of to the original benefactor. The concept is old, but the phrase may have been coined by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight.[1]

"Pay it forward" is implemented in contract law of loans in the concept of third party beneficiaries. Specifically, the creditor offers the debtor the option of paying the debt forward by lending it to a third person instead of paying it back to the original creditor. This contract may include the provision that the debtor may repay the debt in kind, lending the same amount to a similarly disadvantaged party once they have the means, and under the same conditions. Debt and payments can be monetary or by good deeds. A related type of transaction, which starts with a gift instead of a loan, is alternative giving.

Contents

  • History 1
    • Robert Heinlein's contribution 1.1
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

History

Pay it forward was used as a key plot element in the denouement of a New Comedy play by Menander, Dyskolos (a title which can be translated as "The Grouch"). Dyskolos was a prizewinning play in ancient Athens in 317 BC; however, the text of the play was lost and it was only recovered and republished in 1957.

The concept was rediscovered and described by Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 25, 1784:

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his 1841 essay Compensation,[2] wrote: "In the order of nature we cannot render benefits to those from whom we receive them, or only seldom. But the benefit we receive must be rendered again, line for line, deed for deed, cent for cent, to somebody."

In 1916, Lily Hardy Hammond wrote, "You don't pay love back; you pay it forward."[1]

Woody Hayes (February 14, 1913 – March 12, 1987) was a college football coach who is best remembered for winning five national titles and 13 Big Ten championships in 28 years at The Ohio State University. He misquoted Emerson as having said "You can pay back only seldom. You can always pay forward, and you must pay line for line, deed for deed, and cent for cent." He also shortened the (mis)quotation into "You can never pay back; but you can always pay forward" and variants.

The 1929 novel, Magnificent Obsession, by Lloyd C. Douglas, also espoused this philosophy, in combination with the concept that good deeds should be performed in confidence.

An anonymous spokesman for Alcoholics Anonymous said in the Christian Science Monitor in 1944, "You can't pay anyone back for what has happened to you, so you try to find someone you can pay forward."[3]

Also in 1944, the first steps were taken in the development of what became the Heifer Project, one of whose core strategies is "Passing on the Gift".[4]

Robert Heinlein's contribution

The term "pay it forward" was popularized by Robert A. Heinlein in his book Between Planets, published in 1951:

Heinlein both preached and practiced this philosophy; now the

  • Pay it Forward Day UK
  • Pay It Forward Foundation
  • International Pay it Forward Day
  • Be A Kind Voice to someone in need.

External links

  1. ^ a b Hammond, Lily Hardy (1916). In the Garden of Delight. New York:  
  2. ^ , 1841, (text of Emerson essay)CompensationRalph Waldo Emerson,
  3. ^ "Group to Combat Alcoholism Grows Apace in Anonymity" Christian Science Monitor Jan 8, 1944; pg. 3
  4. ^ "Passing on the gift" is fundamental to Heifer's entire approach.
  5. ^ Pay it Forward — Heinlein Society
    The most important aspect of Robert Heinlein’s legacy that we at The Heinlein Society support and adhere to is his concept of paying it forward.
  6. ^ "The Heinlein Society". 
  7. ^ Hoffman, Paul (1998).  
  8. ^ Sjœrdsma, Al. """Review of "What Price a Life?. ComicBoards.com. SpiderFan.org. Retrieved 6 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Pay It Forward Foundation
  10. ^ Pay It Forward Experience
  11. ^ The Newton Project
  12. ^ Student Body of America Association
  13. ^ Project Pay It Forward

References

See also

program to implement education with the pay-it-forward concept. [13] Inspired by

On April 5, 2012, WBRZ-TV, the American Broadcasting Company affiliate for the city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, did a story on The Newton Project,[11] a 501(c)(3) outreach organization created to demonstrate that regardless of how big the problems of the world may seem, each person can make a difference simply by taking the time to show love, appreciation and kindness to the people around them. It is based on the classic pay-it-forward concept, but demonstrates the impact of each act on the world by tracking each wristband with a unique ID number and quantifying the lives each has touched. The Newton Project’s attempt to quantify the benefits of a Pay It Forward type system can be viewed by the general public at their website.

The Pay it Forward Movement and Foundation[9] was founded in the USA helping start a ripple effect of kindness acts around the world. The newly appointed president of the foundation, Charley Johnson, had an idea for encouraging kindness acts by having a Pay it Forward Bracelet[10] that could be worn as a reminder. Since then, over a million Pay it Forward bracelets have been distributed in over 100 countries sparking acts of kindness. Few bracelets remain with their original recipients, however, as they circulate in the spirit of the reciprocal or generalized altruism.

In 2000, Catherine Ryan Hyde's novel Pay It Forward was published and adapted into a film of the same name, distributed by Warner Bros. and starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. In Ryan Hyde's book and movie it is described as an obligation to do three good deeds for others in response to a good deed that one receives. Such good deeds should accomplish things that the other person cannot accomplish on their own. In this way, the practice of helping one another can spread geometrically through society, at a ratio of three to one, creating a social movement with an impact of making the world a better place.

Some time in 1980, a sixteen-page supplemental Marvel comic appeared in the Chicago Tribune entitled “What Price a Life?” and was subsequently reprinted as the backup story in Marvel Team-Up #126 dated February, 1983. This was a team-up between Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, in which Spider-Man helps the Hulk escape from police who mistakenly thought that he was attacking them. Afterwards, they meet in their secret identities, with Peter Parker warning Bruce Banner to leave town because of the Hulk’s seeming attack on police. But Banner is flat broke, and cannot afford even bus fare. As a result, Parker gives Banner his last $5 bill, saying that someone had given him money when he was down on his luck, and this was how he was repaying that debt. Later, in Chicago, the Hulk confronts muggers who had just robbed an elderly retired man of his pension money, all the money he had. After corralling the muggers, the Hulk turns towards the victim. The retiree thinks that the Hulk is about to attack him as well, but instead, the Hulk gives him the $5 bill. It transpires that the very same old man had earlier given a down-on-his-luck Peter Parker a $5 bill.[8]

The mathematician Paul Erdős heard about a promising math student unable to enroll in Harvard University for financial reasons. Erdős contributed enough to allow the young man to register. Years later, the man offered to return the entire amount to Erdős, but Erdős insisted that the man rather find another student in his situation, and give the money to him.[7]

Bradbury has also advised that writers he has helped thank him by helping other writers.

Heinlein was a mentor to Ray Bradbury, giving him help and quite possibly passing on the concept, made famous by the publication of a letter from him to Heinlein thanking him. In Bradbury's novel novel Dandelion Wine by, published in 1957, when the main character Douglas Spaulding is reflecting on his life being saved by Mr. Jonas, the Junkman:

[6] made repeated reference to the doctrine, attributing it to his spiritual mentor Heinlein.Spider Robinson Author [5]

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