Sharing Acts of Kindness


Editor's note: Father Erich Rutten, director of Campus Ministry, contributed this guest column to The Scroll.

We’ve all seen them – quirky, sometimes funny and sometimes annoying bumper stickers.

“Envision whirled peas.” “Dog is my co-pilot.” “When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.” But there is at least one bumper sticker that is worth taking to heart: “Practice Random Acts Of Kindness And Senseless Acts Of Beauty.”

Last spring, in the heart of the financial crisis which has impacted so many and in the midst of the tragic disappearance and death of freshman Dan Zamlen, members of our community got together to promote a campaign to support “Acts of Kindness” at UST and in our local community.

Although the bumper sticker might seem trite, how else can we respond to those around us who are hurting? How else can we raise the bar on making UST a great place to learn, work and live? A little kindness goes a long way to brighten someone’s day and to make the world a better place. Kindness provides hope that the world doesn’t have to be so cold, impersonal and unforgiving. Simple acts of kindness, whether “random” or “intentional,” can be a powerful response to difficulty and tragedy.

This year, let us all make a point to reach out each day by performing at least one act of kindness. It might be as simple as a smile or a hello or lifting up a quick prayer. It might be organizing a food drive in your department or club or organization. It might be sending a card to someone who needs a good word. It might be spending time to listen or time to help.

The Office for Mission and the Human Resources Department, along with representatives from all areas of the UST community, will be promoting “Acts of Kindness” throughout this coming year.

We will hold our first public Acts of Kindness event at noon Thursday with “Flower Power.” Children from the St. Thomas Child Development Center will help us give flowers to passersby in the lower quadrangle of the St. Paul campus as an act of kindness, and will suggest that they pass along the flowers to others as their own act of kindness. In Minneapolis, we will give away flowers in the School of Law atrium and outside the Food for Thought restaurant.

I invite you to visit our new Web site to find ideas and resources, and to send your stories of “acts of kindness” to us at Get involved. Make a difference.

Let’s turn this bumper sticker slogan into a life-giving force for good here at St. Thomas and in our communities.