St. Cloud gets a lot of negative flack.

When I first began my job in St. Cloud two years ago, my wife and I were living in Minneapolis. We wanted to move closer to my new job, but -- as we looked and asked around for suggestions -- we were encouraged not to move to St. Cloud; it wasn't as "nice" as surrounding areas, we were told. So we settled in Monticello.

Over the past two years, I've continued to hear negative things about the Granite City. "It's not what it used to be," is something I hear often both from people in the area and those who grew up in St. Cloud.

Speaking only for myself, I have to wonder if "what it used to be" is predominantly white and with less crime. Whatever the changes time has incurred, I'm sorry to admit that the present cloud of negativity has clouded my own perception of the city and the good that can be found here.

Of course, good can be found anywhere, but we have to choose for ourselves to create and see it -- like my friend who recently shared an encouraging story of good she observed. My friend, who has asked to remain anonymous, works for Kwik Trip, and the story she shared on Facebook comes from a recent shift:

Earlier this week, a Somali teenager walked into the store to purchase a sandwich. I always keep a close eye on our Somali guests. Why? Because given the bigotry toward them in this area, I want to make sure others are always treating them with respect. This young man didn't have enough change for the sandwich he wanted. So he went to choose something else. The big burly white dude standing behind him, followed him. I watched. Then, the big burly white dude said to him, "pick out whatever you want to eat, I'm buying your lunch today." The teenager tried to give him whatever change he did have. The dude wouldn't take it. I wanted to hug him. When it comes to understanding others, you can be a part of the problem, or you can be a part of the solution. You decide. Make it a beautiful day, my friends. ❤️

I'm not here to say what St. Cloud is or was or should be. I'm not here to point fingers or cast blame. I'm not here with a five-step plan of how to reconcile or "fix" St. Cloud. Because I think my friend got it right -- "When it comes to understanding others, you can be a part of the problem, or you can be a part of the solution. You decide."

If it really is as simple as that, then I have my own decision to make today. So do you.

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