For some, this is a new concept ... that is in
reality, several centuries old.
There are many ways a person can "pay something forward" without costing even one penny.
- You pay the cashier for the next person's order
at a drive-up.
- You hold the door open for someone who may
need the helping hand.
- You offer to help someone who is unsure or
confused about something.
- You assistance someone who is in need.
- You repay the kindness that others have given to you without knowing who you were or are.
This new concept first appeared
in the play Dyskolos in Athens, Greece, 317 B.C.
Benjamin Franklin rekindled the concept in
a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 22, 1784 where Franklin wrote:
“I do not pretend to give
such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When
you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands,
before it meets
with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of
good with a little money.”
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.”
Football's coaching legend Woody Hayes (won 5 national titles and 13 Big 50 Championships in 28 years at The
Ohio State University) promoted the idea but badly misquoted
The term “pay it forward” was
popularized in Robert A Heinlein’s book Between Planets published
in 1951, Heinlein wrote:
“The banker reached into the
folds of his gown, pulled out a single credit note. 'But eat first — a full belly steadies
the judgment. Do me the honor of
accepting this as our welcome to the newcomer.' The hungry person, Don, had his pride saying no but his stomach said YES! Don took it and said, 'Uh, thanks! That's awfully kind of you. I'll pay it back, first chance.' 'Instead', said the banker, 'pay
it forward to some other brother who needs it.'"