Kicking the Door Down
16 Oct 2017
Kicking the Door Down
by Kevin d'Aquino
The phrase ‘Pay it Forward’ may have originated from Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book ‘The Garden of Delight’, but the concept is an old one.
The expression describes the beneficiary of a good deed repaying it to others rather than to the original benefactor.
The key idea here is momentum or more accurately, forward momentum. A good deed that has only gratitude as an outcome is limited to two basic elements – Action (good deed) and Result (gratitude).
The equation has nowhere to go from there because it is self-fulfilling and thus terminal. It has achieved all that it needs to achieve and has no further role to play.
If it were an actor its stage direction would read – *Deliver line; Exit stage left*.
The equation is limited also in its zone of influence to the benefactor and the beneficiary and the reward for both parties is transient at best.
A donation offered once a year to an indiscriminate recipient is the one-night-stand of charitable intentions - The idea is great, the objective sound and the act itself likely satisfying - to a point. But the gratification is fleeting and…insignificant?
This is not what compassion should feel like. It is neither a solitary nor a singular emotion. It is one to be propagated, shared, encouraged, expanded upon and celebrated and if so employed has an infinite capacity for joy.
And state of joy has the power to transcend every adverse condition that afflicts us both as individuals and as a society as a whole.
Think of it as bouncing a ball against a wall so that you can catch it again. No matter how many times the ball comes back to you, you are the only one there to catch it and pretty soon the exercise will become repetitive and meaningless.
But if you were to remove the wall, include a bunch of other people, encourage them to pass the ball amongst themselves, increase the size of the playing field, increase the tempo, get the people to run around as they pass the ball, divide them into opposing teams to make it a little more interesting then establish some rules that govern how these teams compete and you have the foundation of a sport – hell, you have the foundation of all sports.
You also have the basis of a community.
Through sport we set in motion social activities that allow us to express our individuality but at the same time still be connected to something greater than the self, where personal achievements can be celebrated by many.
We are all individuals but not one of us is exclusive, we all share our humanity.
And that sense of pride, passion and unity that we experience, that realisation that we are all a part of a collective consciousness, one that transcends our own imposed cultural, religious and racial classifications is the essence of what sets us apart from the animals - It is the very thing that makes us human.
Sentience? Compassion? Empathy? Morality? Order? Virtue? Sound values on which we shape the tenets that define who we are as people. But if not applied consistently and without prejudice then these ideals are useless.
If we do not have a solid foundation on which to build our beliefs, with no deep-rooted support our convictions, no matter how noble, will crumble. With neither structure nor form our values are baseless and once exposed our most sacred principles are mere chaff in the wind.
And let’s not forget Love, the most powerful yet least applied emotion of all.
We bandy the concept of ‘Love’ around liberally but few translate the idea into action and the concept of love that exists only in ideological suspension is ephemeral at best and utterly worthless.
In a society where our sense of self is measured by the vacuous trappings of material wealth rather than by personal enlightenment it is no wonder that many of us find ourselves in the midst of an existential conundrum.
What is it all about indeed?
Was I really born to expend my life’s energy in a soulless corporate entity that is far removed from my soul’s expression, marry, produce children, grow old and then die? Will I ever achieve something great? What is my purpose here? Will I leave a legacy or at the very least just find inner peace? Will I find true love? Is there such a thing? Am I really expected to share my love, true or not, with only one other person within the sanctity of marriage or is the concept of marriage itself an old fashioned social convention soon to be discarded and replaced by an arrangement more suited to our capricious human nature?
Dark ponderings all and reflections we can never hope to fully comprehend – thank goodness, for it is these reflections and the pursuit of understanding that keeps us ever seeking to improve ourselves, our lives and the lives of those around us.
And this, for me, is the essence of paying forward.
Gratitude is not without merit. It is the socially expected polite response. But the true value of gratitude can only take form in the shape of another good deed – one that is born of a sincere desire to help someone else the way that you yourself were helped.
Beyond all else, I believe that opening this door exposes us to an infinite realm of selflessness and that that by embracing it we prepare ourselves to take the next step forward in our natural evolution as a species.
The alternative has only our imminent self-destruction as its eventual outcome –unthinkable!