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Davis Journal

Changing the world with ‘One Kind Act a Day’

Apr 18, 2024 08:55AM ● By Braden Nelsen
 Imam Dawood Yasin, Bishop Phyllis A. Spiegel, Archbishop John C. Wester, Rabbi Sam Spector, and Elder Brian K. Taylor participate in the religious panel at the Kindness Symposium. Photo courtesy One Kind Act a Day Facebook.

Imam Dawood Yasin, Bishop Phyllis A. Spiegel, Archbishop John C. Wester, Rabbi Sam Spector, and Elder Brian K. Taylor participate in the religious panel at the Kindness Symposium. Photo courtesy One Kind Act a Day Facebook.

SALT LAKE CITY—It seems like a simple idea: performing just one kind act a day, but for Khosrow Semnani, it’s something that has changed his world, and that he hopes will change the entire world for the better. It’s a view shared by many and one that was celebrated at the Kindness Summit at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

In introducing the topic of the summit, Semnani spoke about his first experiences with kindness in the United States shortly after his arrival in 1978, “People were friendlier,” he said, sharing how nearly everyone said hello, and greeted him, “We don’t do that anymore.” Semnani also credited the kindness of the people of Utah for helping him survive those first few turbulent years following his immigration, “If it wasn’t for the grace and wonderful attitude of the people in this state, I wouldn’t be standing here.”

However, said Semnani, that same spirit of kindness and grace has ebbed in recent years, “(There is) so much lack of friendship and kindness,” he recalled thinking, “I’ve got to do something.” Semnani wasted no time, and in 2021, he brought the idea of One Kind Act a Day to Gov. Spencer Cox, who said, “I’m In!” April 12 was subsequently declared a day of kindness in Utah, and the Kindness Summit this year, the first of its kind, was brought to fruition. Although it was the first, Semnani hopes it will not be the last, or the only one.

Following Semnani’s remarks, attendees witnessed a panel of religious leaders who guide congregations around the state: Rabbi Sam Spector from the congregation Kol Ami, Archbishop John C. Wester of the Catholic church, Bishop Phyllis A. Spiegel of the Episcopal Church in Utah, Imam Dawood Yasin Director of Student Life and Center for Ethical Living and Learning at Zaytuna College, and Elder Brian K. Taylor General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Each panelist, highly qualified in their field, spoke to not only the event, but also the concept of kindness itself, and being kind every day. “This is radical,” said Imam Yasin, referencing the idea of simply being kind every day. It was a sentiment echoed by Bishop Spiegel who said that the whole concept of One Kind Act a Day is, for her, “Less about legislation, more about who we are,” and about “fostering the best we can be in each other.”

Elder Taylor cited the poem by C.R. Gibson, “I have wept in the night at my shortness of sight, That to others’ needs made me blind, but I never have yet had a twinge of regret for being a little too kind,” saying how he has never forgotten hearing the poem since being introduced to it in a training and has tried to integrate into his own day-to-day life. Archbishop Wester agreed, saying, “kindness begets kindness,” and that it’s all about relationships.

The panel also discussed challenges to the movement for kindness, particularly with the younger generation. When asked how each of them could help young people to be more kind, Rabbi Spector responded, “We see holiness in them…Every person contains holiness and godliness within them.” Archbishop Wester agreed, adding the charge for everyone present to think, “What do we see when we see another human being?”

In bringing kindness to the community at large, each panelist said that it is ultimately the small things that will make the difference, “Smiling in the face of your brother or sister is charity,” said Imam Yasin. Bishop Spiegel said that simply being aware of other people can help with performing one kind act a day, and that, “the way we heal the fastest is when we help others.” Archbishop Wester encouraged being intentional about kindness, and Elder Taylor concluded with the scriptural charge of “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me,” saying “That means everybody.

One Kind Act a Day is slowly gaining traction, and, if all goes according to plan, will become more and more prevalent than just the once-a-year Kindness Summit. After all, the name is One Kind Act a Day, and representatives from the foundation have already begun speaking with city leaders all over the state, including right here in Davis County.