Hope is alive in Putah Creek Nature Park
I have had a long and glorious life. Had I the power to go back in time and change things or do things in a different manner, it would involve just a few quick moments in a line of millions and millions of moments. I would change powerful moments. Moments that might even have made me who I am as a man — moments that sent my life in its own direction. Moments that would forever place me among veterans of war as a veteran of war.
It is easy to say that I would change this and that if I were able. In reality, the changing of a single moment in my life could possibly change everything. If I had gone to the past and exchanged one horrible moment for, let’s say, a moment of fun, I would not know the value of a person’s life or the power of a person’s mistakes and regrets. I would not know that a person I had called an enemy was not really my enemy at all.
If I changed just a few moments, I might never know that the terminology of governments is not the terminology of people. I would not know that a police action is actually a war. I would not know that a defensive action in a foreign land is actually an offensive invasion bent on destruction and the taking of life, precious life. I would not know that should you push a person hard enough and kill everything that he knows and loves, that person will strike back with a vengeance and try to kill everything that I know and love. That’s the way it is.
It is the terminology of governments that forces us to be distrustful of others outside of our own land. Our politicians tell us that Mexicans are thieves and drug dealers and they should be walled out, away from us. Politicians tell us that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. They say Russia and China are fixed and ready to destroy the west. If I went back and changed just a few moments, I would not know that this is probably not true at all.
I would not know that the world is made up of individuals who are capable of making their own decisions in a peaceful manner with open arms of friendship and love. Individuals with mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters, just like us. Like us, their governments try to make critical decisions for them that may force them in directions that the do not choose to follow. After all, if we do not know or understand a person a continent away, it is easy to be distrustful and suspicious of his activities.
You will be happy to know that there is hope for us all. Yes, right here in Winters California, there is big time hope. In the last couple of days hope came to the City of Winters and went to work in our Nature Park planting hundreds of trees and rose hips. Most of the people of Winters, California, didn’t even know that hope was here with gloves on, digging in our soil, all in an effort to get to know us, to understand us.
On Thursday, February 11, a group of about 30 young students from Shanghai, China, spent the day digging in the mud of Putah Creek, planting trees and roses that will mature in time bringing beauty and substance for us all to enjoy. As I watched them digging, slinging mud at each other and swinging on the rope swings, I was almost brought to tears with the amount of hope I saw in them. It was a lovely day for me.
On the very next day, Friday, the 12th of February, still more hope came to town. A group of about 20 young professionals, each from a different country, spent the day working in the mud of Putah Creek Nature Park. These outstanding groups of young people, hosted by UC Davis, are all members of the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. They were beautiful beyond description. They are the best the world has to offer.
Since 1979, close to 4,274 professionals representing more than 157 countries have participated in the Humphrey Program. This year, 171 Humphrey Fellows from 98 different countries are spending the academic year at 16 universities across the United States. The fellowship is designed to promote international cooperation and understanding. It is wonderful and it fills me with hope and happiness just to be around them as they dig in our muddy creek bed.
All of this international attention to the City of Winters Putah Creek Nature Park was made possible by the efforts of the Putah Creek Council and the Solano County Water Agency, and the City of Winters, California. I cannot tell you what an honor it is for me to support these organizations as a volunteer. When I put my hands into the mud of Putah Creek alongside volunteers from every corner of the world, I am filled with hope and gratitude.
It is from this experience of fellowship and cooperation of people from around the world that I no longer feel a need to go back in time to change the moments that make up my life. These moments have brought me to where I am right now and I am exactly where I need to be, full of hope and full of love for my fellow man.