an accountant's perspective

the pay it forward concept

Pay it Forward

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The results of the General Election have given some people the feeling that we are heading into hard times – with austerity measures reaching new heights. If this is the case there is very little anyone can do about financial hardship…

…unless…

Unless we start acting more like a community and supporting each other instead of relying on a government to act in the best interests of its people. In many ways this feels like a long shot but I am not sure why that is the case. There was a film produced in the year 2000 and I have never forgotten watching it but perhaps now is the time to watch it again. I will warn you that tissues may be necessary.

The film introduces a concept but before I go into that here is a clip where Kevin Spacey is giving his students a task to complete in class – essentially to change the world:

I am sure we can all remember that one teacher who made us think differently. They were maybe that little bit more fun than others or perhaps they engaged the class as adults rather than children. Sometimes you remember one sentence spoken to you at your most impressionable moment and you can say for certain that it helped shape who you are. That is the thrill for teachers I am sure. These moments can happen as adults as well if we are receptive to them and do not fall into the trap of assuming we know all there is to know before we have even got started in life.

‘Pay it Forward’ is a somewhat utopian take on a simple flaw in society which has perhaps been highlighted even more recently by our addictions to phones, video games, IPads, social media and TV series. I will let a clip from the film introduce the concept of ‘Pay if Forward’ and then you can decide whether it is feasible:

Since the age of mobile phones arrived in many cases people struggle to talk to the person sat next to them – never mind do something selfless for them. But, what if they did? What if they picked their head up and looked around and considered how the people around them were coping with life. Just stopped to see if they could help anyone simply because they could. It is not a matter of giving people money but offering your skills to help others in a deliberate manner.

What if we lived in a society where this was common place?

You can call me a dreamer but isn’t the antidote to a heavily indebted society, a ridiculous deficit, with a greedy capitalist elite as its driving force, going to have to come from a different source entirely. Didn’t we once as a society borrow cups of sugar, watch next doors kids for them while they popped to the shops, donate food to street parties, check on elderly neighbours to see if they needed anything, and do things as a community?

The thought process behind this blog was sparked by ABC’s director, Belinda Darley. In her role as a local fitness studio owner she has set up a scholarship for young dancers wanting to pursue their dreams by going on to a dance academy of their choosing. She did it because a friend of the family, Jack Dargan, desperately wanted to go to Urdang Academy, had passed the assessment process but didn’t have the finances to go. So she paid for him to attend and he is now completing that course. Enabling someone to pursue their dreams is something she wanted to replicate so the scholarship programme was born and all the fundraising that goes along with it. Gainsborough dance students of all backgrounds now have a chance to take their passions further than before.

Belinda did that not because of a conscious decision to do something good but in response to someone needing her help. I know lots of people who have helped out others in different ways because they are goodhearted individuals. It makes a massive difference to people’s lives.

And we can do more because sometimes it is just as simple as putting the bins out for your neighbours, cutting someone else’s grass when you do yours, making lunch for someone at work who always forgets theirs, offering to pick someone up who usually has to walk everywhere. These are small things that will make others smile. If you can do that three times you will have had a positive impact.

But what if we dreamed bigger than that? What if we accepted responsibility for the state of society and decided to make it better – make the world better?

Could you change three people’s lives if you put your mind to it?

There are plenty of things in this world that we cannot change and dwelling on those will ultimately lead to frustration, anger and disillusionment. Let’s look closer to home at the things we can change and start making our mark on society from within society.

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