By Allison Steinheiser - Staff Writer
On Wednesday, April 25, students filled the performance center to hear what Pay it Forward means to the founder of the Pay it Forward foundation founder Charley Johnson. The event, which was put on by Student Government, was meant to inspire students to “pay it forward.”
Johnson was a former business owner who walked away from the corporate world to begin his foundation that spans across the globe. At age 20, Johnson saw the movie Pay It Forward for the first time.
“Showed I didn’t need permission to make someone smile, to make someone feel better,” said Johnson.
The movie inspired him. He says the concept is as simple as doing something for someone and asking nothing in return.
“Remember what it was like to be a kid… to be nice just to be nice. All those things you were taught as kids, I want that back,” said Johnson.
With all of the problems in the world, Johnson said, “we didn’t get to this world overnight… we got her over decades of making little decisions.” He points out that “those little tiny conflicts lead to war.”
Johnson said, “you want a better future of everything you do to be better, you need to do better… we need the core of humanity to shift.”
Big things, like going to Africa or donating thousands of dollars, will only get so far according to Johnson. He feels that the “Pay it Forward” movement is the answer to all the world’s problems. He says people need to do something physical about all of the problems. One way to do this is to great a physical reminder. This is why Johnson’s foundation hands out “Pay It Forward” bracelets every time he speaks. The idea is to wear the bracelet as a reminder. Then when you pay it forward, you give the bracelet to the person you helped. This helps the make sure “the chain doesn’t break.”
Another issue that Johnson believes is contributing to the lack of caring is the way that the human connection has vanished. He told the students in the crowd, “I’m begging you to bring the human connection back into this (digital) world.”
Instead of staring at smart phones, Johnson says something as simple as smiling at a stranger or making eye contact can change a person’s day.
As Johnson was wrapping up his presentation to students, he said he hoped to influence the lives of the students so they could help others. He said he would be disappointed if only one student took to heart what he said. This is because the movement is not about one person caring, it is about the whole world coming together and caring about one another.