Pay It Forward

On Friday evenings, my wife and I like to get a quick bite to eat and then go to the movies. Recently, we saw a wonderful film entitled Pay It Forward. The basic plot of the film revolves around an assignment given by a teacher to a young man in middle school. The young man reasons that if he helps three people and in return they each help three people by “paying it forward”-rather than paying him back-the world will become a better place.

I thought the message of the film had particular application to the jewelry industry, especially as the year comes to a close. We are fortunate to have a number of organizations that perform invaluable work for the industry. The Jewelers Vigilance Committee, The Jewelers’ Security Alliance, Jewelers of America, the Gemological Institute of America, the American Gem Trade Association, and the American Gem Society are a few that immediately come to mind. Each of these organizations provides the members of our community with valuable services. And within each of these organizations, there are many who volunteer their time to help direct activities and achieve the organization’s mission.

In today’s fast-paced world of computers, e-mail, and voice mail, we all look for ways we can create more personal time. Yet, the industry is continually faced with problems that none of us can solve individually. Every year there seems to be a new crisis; this year, it’s “conflict diamonds.” And in response to these crises, it is the industry associations that jump in and take a leadership role, gathering facts, opinions, and ideas-in short, fashioning solutions by working together.

The women and men who provide this leadership deserve not only our thanks but also our support. If for no other reason than enlightened self-interest, all of us should support the activities of these groups. Writing a check is one easy way to do so; remember that when your membership renewal reminder arrives in the mail. However, you might also consider volunteering your time and your energy. There is always room for new faces and fresh ideas. If security is your passion, call John Kennedy at the JSA to see what you can do to help advance the cause of improved security. If industry ethics is your concern, there are a multitude of organizations you can contact, starting with Jewelers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, GIA, and AGS.

The film Pay It Forward is about what one person can do to improve the world. What one middle-school student accomplishes in the film is a purely fictional 120-minute portrayal of what can happen when you help three people and then let the mathematics take over from there. “Paying it forward” in an industry setting-by supporting industry groups organized to address specific industry concerns-is not only good business but also good sense.

As the year 2000 draws to an end, and you put your New Year’s resolutions together, remember to make one of them “pay it forward.”