The Power of Payback

Terry - Lakewood, Colorado
Entered on February 27, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in the power of payback and of one good deed spawning another. I believe we are all connected in one way or another, and as such what each of us does affects many other people. There are theories I’ve heard on this topic, such as six degrees of separation, and that’s one explanation of how our lives touch each other. You only have to look a short distance to find someone who knows someone who knows someone… I think you get the picture. It’s all one big network that we live in and are surrounded by. But beyond that, our daily actions hold much more importance than any of us really understand. If I have a friendly smile for someone or a kind word, they repay me with a like gesture or greeting. Likewise, if I’m nasty, I get the same treatment back. The first example is how we successfully co-habitat in over-congested cities and how we have successful relationships. The second is how we hurt each other, either mentally or physically. We can’t ever expect to be paid back, or know when it will occur. It may be weeks, months, even years away. But I know it will eventually come. So I’m prepared to either relish in some good karma sometime in the future, or brace myself for some bad news somewhere along the line.

I’m currently unemployment, another victim of another layoff. My current situation didn’t shape my beliefs. I’ve always felt that if I did something kind for someone, I would eventually get my due. Likewise, I’ve always lived by the theory that if someone’s wronged me, they would eventually pay for their actions. During my job search, I’ve forwarded job openings and contact information to a variety of people – some I know well, others I’ve just met. I hope that my good deeds lead to someone getting a job. Most likely I won’t know if and when that happens. What I do believe is that the power of payback will eventually materialize and lead to opportunities for me.