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Pay It Forward

By | September 2005
Page 1 of 3
REFLECTION: Pay It Forward

Maybe someday I'll have kids of my own. I hope so. If I do, they'll probably ask what part I played in the movement that changed the world. And because I'm not the person I once was, I'll tell them the truth. My part was nothing. I did nothing. I was just the guy in the corner doing my usual thing..

I found out that actions have consequences, and not everything is under my control. Until I found out that I couldn't change the world at all, but a seemingly extra-ordinary movie, and a twelve-year-old boy could change the world completely — for the better, and forever—working with nothing but his own altruism, one good idea, and a couple of years, and a big sacrifice.

It started with a teacher who moved to Atascadero, California, to teach social studies to junior high school students. A teacher nobody knew very well, because they couldn't get past his face—because it was hard to look at his face.

It started with a boy, young Trevor McKinney, troubled by his mother's alcoholism and fears of his abusive father, who didn't seem all that remarkable on the outside, but who could see past his teacher's face.

It started with an assignment, where Trevor caught up by an intrigued by this one, which his teacher, Mr. Simonet, had given out a hundred times before, with no startling results. But that assignment in the hands of that boy caused a seed to be planted, and after that nothing in the world would ever be the same. Nor would anybody want it to be.

The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying a favor not back, but forward—repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. Trevor's efforts to make good on his idea bring a revolution not only in the lives of himself, his mother and his physically and emotionally scarred teacher, but in those of an ever-widening circle of people completely unknown to him.

Random acts of...
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