“Is it possible for one idea to change the world?” This quote is on the poster for the movie “Pay It Forward”. This single sentence pulled me into watching the movie, because I wanted to know if it was possible or not. And in the end, it became my favourite movie of all-time.
This inspirational movie opens with the story of 12-year-old Trevor McKinney who has an alcoholic mother and the fear that his abusive father would return. One day Trevor meets a new Social Studies teacher that assigned homework with the topic “think of an idea to change the world—and then put it into action.”
On the due date of the assignment, many students presented their ideas on how to change their own world. One girl said she would start a Chinese language website and have the Chinese people jump up and down together so that the earth’s axis would become straight again. But Trevor came up with a theory that would change the entire world for the better. He converted the meaning of doing good for something in return, to doing good continuously. It resembled a chain reaction of good deeds; the principles were as follows:
- It must be a good deed that truly helps someone else.
- It must be something that they cannot do for themselves.
- Once we’ve done it for them, they must do it for 3 other people.
He presented his theory with a plan that he drew with circles. One circle splitting off into three more circles. It was like a chain that continued to spread out from 1 to 3 and from 3 to 9 in every place and direction. Doing good deeds expanded and grew exponentially. This boy didn’t just think of a theory, but he acted on it as well. The movie shows us many people who still needed opportunities and want opportunities to do good. The back stories and details of the characters in the movie are complex and are very interesting.
I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone, even though it’s been out since the year 2000. I would like anyone who’s interested to have the chance to watch and digest the movie for yourselves. I can tell you this, from the theory of a young boy in a classroom, a huge impact or phenomenon was felt for many people. It was so widespread that a television program asked to interview him! One of the most moving quotes from the movie is, “I guess it’s hard for some people who are so used to things the way they are, even if they’re bad, to change, ’cause I guess they kinda give up. And when they do, everybody kinda loses.”
Let me tell you a little about the origins of this movie. Before it became the movie “Pay It Forward”, it was a book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. In this book she tells a true inspirational story from her personal experience. In the middle of the night while she was driving on a deserted road, her car broke down. Smoke started to enter her car and she was very frightened and got even more scared when she saw two men approach her car. She thought she was going to be robbed or attacked but all they did was help her, look over her car, and save her from her car exploding. They even contacted the rescue team for her, and while she was talking to the rescuers, the two men disappeared.
“I wanted to thank them and repay them, but I didn’t know how I could do that. Since then, I’ve been looking around at people and seeing if anyone needs help and helping them. This is how I am repaying those two strangers that helped me that night.”
The movie didn’t make a killing at the box office but it’s just like the idea from the movie. Doing a little good but doing it consistently can cause a butterfly effect and eventually, a huge impact, just like the true story of Catherine. She was able to create a ripple that she could never had imagined, because believe it or not, other than this movie which is in the hearts of many people including myself, numerous people around the world have taken the theory of Pay It Forward and use it to help students, cancer sufferers, and others everywhere. Our world is starting to change…do you want to help change the world?