Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pay it Forward

Many years ago, I was the recipient of the generosity of an old fashioned jewish gentleman. This was in NYC and I was asking for information and a bit of help. What I received was not only my problem solved, but a wonderful new item that I would treasure to this day. When I asked if I could pay/repay the favor, I was told "pass it forward". That was 1976/7 and I have never forgotten.

Many in my parents generation understood this philosophy. In part this was their immigrant heritage. If someone had not taken the first step and then helped the people behind them, we would not have all the wonderful things we take foregranted today.

Recently I was reading about a beautiful example of this philosophy - scholarships to educational institutions; in particular, John W. Kluge. In the 1930's he was a poor immigrant who wanted to attend an Ivy League school. Columbia granted him an academic scholarship. Kluge graduated with honors, became a successful businessman and philanthropist. Over the years he gave over $110 million to Columbia and recently pledged an additional $400 million for scholarships.

While most of us don't have the same financial ability as Kluge, we all have the same ability to make life better for others. Whether you give time, money or things - we all need to pass it forward. In this day, with all its horrors and evil around the world, we need to be the counter balance. We all can make this world a little better - each in his own way. Who knows, the person you help may be another Kluge.