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Manteca going downhill? Here’s three reasons why that isn’t true

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POSTED November 7, 2013 1:35 a.m.

Why is the future bright for Manteca?

There are at least three reasons: David Breitenbucher, Heather O’Leary and Parminder Singh Sahi.

One was born and raised in Manteca and is a longtime firefighter. Another is a college senior ready to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice who moved here 3.5 years ago with her husband. They are looking to adopt to start a family. The other is a hardworking immigrant who is successful in the Silicon Valley. He brought with him from his native India a deep sense of public service reflected both in action and words.

Their paths crossed for the first time Tuesday evening. All three had applied to serve on the Manteca Parks and Recreation Commission.

The native, the transplant, the immigrant.

Three unique backgrounds, one common goal, and a shared dream.

All see investing in youth as the key to combating societal ills.

And they all dream of a better life for their families and their neighbors.

Too often we see the world as a place filled with evil, callous, and uncaring people. That’s because the underbelly of society combined with those who view the world as a dark place are allowed to set the tone. Their anger and angst overwhelms the daily narrative by either their uncivilized activity and outright violence or their perpetual pessimism.

We’ve been told the world has been going to hell since the beginning of time. It’s about time we asked ourselves the silly rhetorical question: Are we there yet?

Since the 1960s it has been predicted no less than five times that the world would run out of food. The “Silent Spring” is long overdue and we can barely hear those screaming that the environmental Armageddon is coming over the chirping sounds of birds and the fluttering of leaves in the breeze. Oil dependency was supposed to collapse the Western World.

A funny thing happened on the way to civilization’s demise. It didn’t happen.

That’s because David Breitenbucher, Heather O’Leary and Parminder Singh Sahi are just the tip of the iceberg. People who quietly go about trying to do the right thing by their families and society weave the bonds that give communities like Manteca their strength.

And while some are high profile most toil below the surface. Much like an iceberg, Manteca’s real strength lies in what you don’t see.

That’s not to say people like David Breitenbucher, Heather O’Leary, and Parminder Singh Sahi aren’t visible. They are. It’s just that their good deeds day in and day out don’t jar us as does the handiwork of carjackers, thieves, vandals, and the assorted dregs of society.

We are told by those who see nothing but dark clouds around them that optimism represents false hope. They say individuals can’t fight the tide.

Tell that to the ragtag band of revolutionists 237 years ago who were outnumbered and outgunned when they took on the world’s super power of the day. Tell that to those who survived the darkest days of the Great Recession only to be swept into more darkness as world war broke out again. Doing the right thing day in and day out along with optimism got them — and the world — through it.

Yes, there are drug dealers in Manteca. There are gangs in Manteca. There are people with a total complete disregard of traffic laws who imperil lives every day in Manteca. There is poverty in Manteca. There is abuse in Manteca. There is unemployment in Manteca.

But guess what: Not only are these ills universal for all practical purposes but they aren’t as insurmountable to battle in Manteca as they seem.

If you look at the other side of the equation you’d understand. There are 12 percent unemployed but there are 88 percent employed. There are 400 or so known gang members and associates but there are 71,000 who aren’t gang members or affiliates. For every dangerous driver there are countless others who follow the rules and are courteous. If that wasn’t the case our streets would resemble a destruction derby and the body count would soar.

Manteca is full of people born and raised here, who are transplants and who have immigrated to this country that are making Manteca strong.

The pages of history books are devoted overwhelmingly to the bad. But the history of good isn’t written by generals, presidents, mass murderers, and tyrants. It is written by individuals such as David Breitenbucher, Heather O’Leary, and Parminder Singh Sahi.

Their deeds and good works go undetected for the most part as their actions aren’t sensational nor do they tantalize.

But they are there fighting the good fight day in and day out, generation after generation.

And they are the heart, soul and strength of Manteca.



This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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