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Pay It Forward

By , Clayton, MO
I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. For the past three years, I have probably contemplated almost every profession notable. When I learned about something I enjoyed, I could imagine myself with a profession similar to that topic that was so comforting to me. I would never have thought I would find inspiration in a topic that disgusts me.
Probably one of the most distressing topics I ever had to learn about was the bystander effect, and more specifically, the Kitty Genovese case where people stood and watched a man rape and murder the woman, Kitty. Once I was aware of this theory, I began to notice how this compromises people. Even though this example is extreme, the effect is everywhere, and it bothers me how people are so hesitant to help one another. I was raised holding doors, helping pack groceries, and turning in lost money for complete strangers. So, I was stunned when I discovered how genuine kindness is actually quite rare.
Although it may be cheesy and cliché, the Liberty Mutual commercial is the perfect example of how I aspire to live my life. The advertisement begins with a man moving a suitcase out of the way of blind woman’s path. A bystander overlooks this small act of kindness, flashes a cheesy smile and then proceeds to help a man up who has just fallen. As the commercial progresses, so do the good deeds. To me, kindness is a domino effect just waiting for someone to tap the first domino. In a society of materialism and egocentricity, we are constantly bombarded with ways to improve our lives and how to make ourselves more money, and while the commercial may be about bringing yourself security, I like to think of the ad as a comforting reminder that I’m not alone in my quest to live a meaningful life. Like this rare commercial, people living for themselves and wanting to better their own lives surround me. I may be overlooked at times and seem insignificant, but I persevere hoping someone will tap the first domino.
The “Pay it Forward” idea is, what I feel, will have the greatest impact on the world, because it betters our society by challenging a person to reassess how he lives his life. In a community, there are the many different cliques all telling you to act and look a certain way. Then there is that rare person. This person isn’t an outcast, but she is frequently looked over. She doesn’t draw attention to herself, but neither lets people ignore her. This person holds doors for the elderly and picks up paper when a teacher drops his essays he has been meaning to grade. She doesn’t act this way because she wants praise or attention, but because she genuinely wants the best for people and hopes that they will continue her acts of kindness. I want to live surrounded by unconditional kindness and it only takes one person to start the on-going effect. Where ever I end up living and what ever I decide to do, being empathetic and selfless will allow me to pursue my dreams with every characteristic I posses. Right now, I may not know what I want to do with my life, but I know how I want to live my life.





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