Thursday, April 28, 2016
Pay it forward is an expression used when someone who is done a good deed repays it to others not the original benefactor. The concept is old, but the term is quite recent:
- First use of the term may have been by Lily Hardy Hammond in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight: "You don't pay love back; you pay it forward."
- The Pay it forward concept was the key plot element in an ancient Greek play from 317 BC called Dyskolos by Menander.
- The concept was described by Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 25, 1784:
I do not pretend to give such a deed; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.
- The term "pay it forward" was used by Robert A. Heinlein in his book Between Planets, published in 1951
- In 2000, Catherine Ryan Hyde's novel Pay It Forward was adapted into a film of the same name, starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment. It describes creating a social movement of doing good deeds to make the world a better place.