I’m a movie nut… and a bookworm. Generally, all kinds, depending on my mood. I’ve seen movie after movie, read book after book… so, when I say that one or the other has truly moved me and left an impression on my life… believe me, it’s an impressive thing.
The term “pay it forward” became popular from a movie of the same name that was released in 2000, with Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment (think, “I see dead people…” from another great one). It’s about a boy’s social studies project that quickly starts to change the lives of the others around him… and beyond.
The assignment: Think of something to change the world and put it into action. The boy presents the idea of paying a favor not back, but forward – repaying good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people.
I remember in the movie, that the boy explains that time to actually do something for someone else – to do this “favor” – is when you feel it the most… when it’s most difficult within the giver to do it.
The changes that start to fall into play – with people who have never even met him – are astounding.
This is such an awesome idea… so simple, yet so profound. However, it often seems that some of the simplest, most profound changes we can make to our world – and some that will simply tumble the facades we have built ourselves – are the ones we find the hardest to carry out. Why? I don’t know; probably because we’ve spent thousands of years in many different cultures building them up.
If you follow the belief (which I do) that we’re evolving back towards remembering our interrelation as One, I’m reminded repeatedly how simple – yet profound – this evolution is.
Here’s the simplest in description: Eliminate the walls.
Several weeks back, my 9th grade daughter and I were talking in the car while I was driving her to school one morning. I have a great interest in the reiteration of some of the conversations she’s had with her friends; it surprises me how the teens and kids are evolving right under everyone’s noses, yet many don’t seem to notice!
Anyway, it seems she and her friends have had quite a few open discussions about different belief systems, and different religions. (This alone is amazing – when I was in 9th grade, most of our conversations centered around what was going on in the entertainment world, our visions for the future… what was in style, whether we were going to the mall over the weekend, stuff like that!). So, I wasn’t overly surprised when she said, “So, what are we, anyway? Are we Christian? Something else? What do I say when someone asks me?”
I was a little bit at a loss; since I don’t think of myself as any designation – and my husband and I have been insistent on teaching our children about all types of beliefs, all types of religions – we’ve purposely not limited ourselves to “being” something.
I didn’t know how to explain that in twenty words or less – which is pretty much the limit for a 9th grader.
However, as things tend to go, this topic has come up again and again over the past several weeks. And it came to me when I was enjoying the quick read The Third Coming, by Jim Rosemergy. There was a portion talking about Gandhi; once, when a reporter was interviewing him in his home, it was noted that even though he is purported Hindu, there was a picture of Christ on his wall. When asked about that, Gandhi responded, “I am a Christian, and a Hindu, and a Moslem, and a Jew.”
It also reminds me of a message I received in meditation once, not too long ago: Watch the children and how they play.
Finally, in answer to my daughter, I came back to her and said, “You remember that discussion we had the other day? On how we’re not anything particular? I was thinking about it, and I think it’s best to just say we’re Universal.” She thought about it and nodded her head. “I like that, Mom…thanks.” and that was that.
It’s great seeing the rash of bumper stickers (I have one myself), t-shirts, and other paraphernalia with the term “Coexist” on it, made up of the symbols of many of the world’s major religions.
Is it really practiced, though?
How often do you think or say something along the lines of “Those people…” “They should…” “They can’t…” ? How many times have you said, “I don’t know… I’m not ______”?
It’s easy to lend a friend, a neighbor, a relative a hand… but what about a stranger? How many times do we come up with excuses on why we shouldn’t help someone we don’t know?
We put up walls, and more walls…
How many times someone is “afraid” to go to a different church than their own, because they’re afraid they’ll “get punished”? Why would that be… because the semantics are different from one denomination of church to the next, or even from one religion to the next?
If you stop listening to the politics of all of the walls that create differences between religions and spiritual practices – and instead, traverse the wall and listen from the heart about what they all mean, and then compare notes – guess what you’ll find for the vast majority? Semantics, cultural (yes, cultural) rituals somewhat different… but the meaning, pretty much all the same.
This is the same with _________ – you name it: gender, race, culture, religion, politics. Under the microscope, our genetic makeup is pretty identical, in terms of science. It’s like I always say – everyone has a different flavor of ice cream that is their favorite, yet most ice cream is really 99% identical in make up… with just the minor differences making up the different flavors and colors.
Yet, it’s still ice cream. One flavor isn’t “evil” (though I’ve tasted some quadruple chocolate flavors that would be close LOL), one isn’t innately “better” than the other, and one person isn’t better or worse than the next because of a particular flavor they enjoy the most – it’s simply a matter of personal preference, based on individual taste.
That’s the point of the “Coexist” campaign. We are all the same family, we are all a part of this organism we call Earth; all that separates us are the politics and cultural practices in our day-to-day lives. Underneath, we all have hearts, minds, and souls. These differences are what make us “different flavors,” and individual. Yet, we can’t lose sight that we are one and the same.
Another way I used to explain this to my children is via anatomy: Our bodies are made up of approximately 10 trillion cells at any given point in time. Every cell has its own function, there are some basic differences between different types of cells, BUT each cell has the full body’s blueprint embedded within it. Every single one. And every single one knows what job it’s chosen, what its function is. Though each cell might not have conscious knowledge of that, or of the comparatively huge Being of which it’s a part, if that type of cell is needed in a different part of the body, that’s where the cell goes. If a person cuts his/her left foot, and some harmful bacteria enter the wound, the cells at the wound site send out signals for phagocytes (white blood cells that specifically ingest and neutralize potentially harmful invaders). Say there are some of those cells up in the right shoulder… do they say, “Well, it’s just so FAR to that foot… and the kids have a soccer game tonight…” or “Well, it’s the FOOT that needs our type of job; we’re SHOULDER type of cells…” ??? No; they go and do their job; whatever it is that is beneficial to the entire organism.
To “get to the next level” – or even get back to whence we came, to restore the Earth and humanity – it’s time to remember that we ARE all a part of the same organism – whether we are in North America, Australia, or Asia; whether we are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, or tribal; whether we are male, female, or in between; whether we are proverbially the shoulder, the elbow, or the nose. It is only then – once we’ve taken down all of these walls, labels, and separations that we’ve put up OURSELVES – that we will be able to truly function to our optimal potential as the whole of what we’re a part.
So, to circle back around, the reason I started this post with the mention of the movie Pay It Forward is because it is a perfect example of my point here: The idea has no boundaries, no limitations. It includes everyone… and it forces us outside of our comfort zone, makes us take down our walls, and to see each other – everyone – as equally important as the other, equally worthy, without prejudice and without limitation.
And when we can do that… we’ll be able to accomplish anything, across the world!