When I was a kid, maybe six or seven, a man stopped his car on the side of the parkway and helped my mother change a tire. It was a long time ago, long before cell phones. We were in an awkward position. The shoulder was narrow, and the ground sloped down away from the road. \u00a0 I don\u2019t know who he was. He was just a guy who stopped to help, and I never saw him again. But I remember something about him. He wouldn\u2019t take the reward my mother offered him. He just shook his head and said that she could help somebody else some day. \u00a0And he smiled at me. I was included in the deal. You probably have a story like that too. A lot of people do. Things like that even have a name now. It\u2019s called paying it forward. Our lives are better because of things people do without hoping for rewards or recognition. \u00a0There were teachers who spent extra time with us and helped us to figure out fractions. There were librarians who suggested books to us, books that showed us new worlds. There were scout leaders and coaches and other mentors. \u00a0 Kids learn a lot of things from watching us. \u00a0They probably learn more about what\u2019s important from what we do than from what we say. My mother would have helped the next person even if the man who changed the tire hadn\u2019t suggested it, and he probably knew that. \u00a0I think that he said what he said for my benefit. Sometimes it\u2019s easy to help because it doesn\u2019t cost much or take up a lot of time. Other times it\u2019s harder, and it takes a real commitment. \u00a0 There are lots of ways to help, lots of ways to make things better, lots of ways to change the world. And we can do it. We can start by reminding our leaders that they have a responsibility to everybody, not just to the people who agree with them, not just to the people who contributed to their campaigns, not just to the people they do business with. We can remind our leaders that being poor isn\u2019t a lifestyle choice and that being rich doesn\u2019t mean that you\u2019re qualified to hold office. We can remind our leaders that honesty and openness and integrity are important and count for a lot. We can remind our leaders that betraying our allies and breaking our promises is beneath us. The world is watching us. They can see how we treat the poor and the sick and the lonely and the disadvantaged. They can see how we treat the most vulnerable members of society. Our kids and our grandkids are watching too. Is this the example we want to set for them? They know when we don\u2019t do the right thing. \u00a0They know when we fail to pay it forward. The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.