Inspiration can be found everyday. Sometimes a seemingly random kindness can inspire many people. In early October of 2015 the Iris Cafe in Lake Orion, Michigan and a group of Lake Orion football players became part of an inspirational story. A customer, who remains nameless, paid the bill for the meals of the football players. He claimed to not have a connection to any of the boys or the high school, he just wanted to pay for their meals. The boys were very thankful and decided to pay it forward. They left money to pay for other customers. This continued to happen as others heard the story of the stranger and football players paying for others.
Pay it forward is a concept that has many connections. It is an expression referring to the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others instead of the original benefactor. The phrase may have been first used by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight. The concept, however, was a key plot element in the play Dyskolos in ancient Athens in 317 BC. The play was lost until it was recovered and republished in 1957. Benjamin Franklin even wrote about the concept in 1784. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about the concept in 1841 in his essay Compensation. Other notable examples exist in writing and organizations proving the power of paying debts or kindness forward.
Robert Heinlein popularized the phrase “pay it forward”. The phrase is in and central to his book Between Planets, which was published in 1951. The Heinlein Society is a humanitarian organization that practices paying it forward. Efforts include: Heinlein for Heroes, the Heinlein Society Scholarship Program, and Heinlein Society blood drives.
In 2007, International Pay It Forward Day was founded in Australia. It is now in over 70 countries with over 50 state and city proclamations. The Student Body of America Association initiated a Project Pay It Forward program. Today the concept and phrase can be found in places that range from Marvel comics to Pay It Forward, the movie, to the Iris Cafe in Lake Orion, Michigan. Be inspired! Have a bright day!