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Letter: An invitation to set aside hate

My friends and I started a gardening program for minority youth in Willmar where they learn how to grow fresh food and run their own business; creating a sense of ownership in their community.

A major part of the program is selling the goods at local farmers markets, which until Saturday was a wonderful experience for the youth.

On Saturday morning at the market, a Somali woman was working at our stand when a man walked by and repeatedly spewed cuss words about the Prophet Mohammed.

As if that wasn't enough, the man followed up by throwing a pig's foot onto our vegetable table, a twisted and disgusting act.

Luckily, we were able to snap a photograph of the man and supplied the Willmar police with the evidence. He was quickly recognized and tracked down, and we are grateful for their quick action.

This Wednesday we have a meeting with all of the youth in our group. We'll share a meal, talk about the garden and talk about the situation that happened over the weekend.

After much discussion with the garden leaders, we have decided to take the words of Michelle Obama to our meeting and apply them to this situation: "When they go low, we go high."

Because you see, sir: Your actions have done nothing to harm us. You've only emboldened us to work harder for positive change in this community. Your actions show us that our program is needed, and like it or not, the youth that we are training as leaders will soon be leaders in this community.

I hope the perpetrator reads this. The older youth in our program would like to give you the chance to get tea and have a discussion about your actions and your ideals; we'd be happy to facilitate this for you.

It's hard to hate your friends. Hating others you know nothing about is no way to live your life. Please take this opportunity to change.

Ben Larson