“I’d like to see younger people in the government. We need more young people in power. And what I mean about power is young people able to make decisions. They have a fresher perspective and listen to the people. It does not matter if they are Democrat or Republican.”
“What words of counsel do you have for the world?” I asked.
“It’s difficult for me,” musician Roberto replied in Spanish.
And with the help of Hector, the manager of Follow Your Heart supermarket and restaurant, who interprets for us, Roberto continued.
“The solution to the troubles of the world? It’s not political, because the two systems—socialism and capitalism, have not found the way for people to be more united and in solidarity.
So to me, the solution is to be more open to the opinions of others, to listen and respect each other. It’s more about the people and less about the government.”
Roberto is a patriot, a true respecter of the American dream. He talked of the freedoms we are graced with in the United States and was open about his wishes for the world to become unified. A theme that we have heard throughout Sidewalk Ghosts, one that I am hearing, and somewhat sadly becoming apparent, more readily from people not born on American soil. All legal, all paying their taxes, and all extremely happy to be living in a democracy.
At first, Roberto was a little hesitant to interview, but with the support of Hector, who graciously found us sitting room in one of the busiest vegan eateries in the area, we settled in for a pleasant conversation.
It was cool how I even got there. Only one hour prior I was perplexed as to where to go on that Sunday evening. Sunday is always the hardest day for me. It’s the day that I do my best to find time for family. And every week the thought of an hours-long adventure became more and more difficult to endeavor, even with my drive to not stop interviewing strangers for 365 consecutive days.
Roberto continued, “I’d like to see younger people in the government. We need more young people in power. And what I mean about power is young people able to make decisions. They have a fresher perspective and listen to the people. It does not matter if they are Democrat or Republican.”
Roberto talked of the people and of solidarity, something that we all share common ground in desiring.
I’ve had conversations with 1000s of people, all vast in their beliefs, ethnicities, age, status, and histories, and from these, I can comfortably state with the credentials of all I have spoken with—we all seek the same desire to be loved and respected for who we are. This alone is basis for us to consider how we view each other, and to steal a dream from Roberto, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a world that is more united and in solidarity.”
Roberto expressed what he called “My idealistic dream.”
It goes like this:
“The same way that this country became the most powerful nation in the world, I think that now in this country the young people of the very same nation should achieve the change in the world. The change that people will create more solidarity. And that this same youth should fight for the same equality that we have in this country to be everywhere else.
Roberto was a humble dude, a talented guitar player, and a citizen of the planet. He spoke powerfully of the freedom of individuality and the peace of community. He dreamt a dream that I am sure we all share. His words challenging us to action. An action that is not beyond our means, and an initiative that, hopefully, we are all beginning to embrace through the encouragement given to us by the words of strangers now friends. Wisdom and shared perspectives that can touch the core of our own self-worth.
Roberto asks of us only one thing, to respect each other for who we are, to drop the guile, judgment, and fear. To extend our minds in having faith in people, and as we do, to allow fresh thinking in exploring the ways we view and act towards one another.
When Hector first introduced me to Roberto, he told me this, “Roberto is the man you need to interview. He is the greatest man in the San Fernando Valley.”
I have faith in the young people.
“I have faith in the young people.” Roberto stood strong. And from what I’ve experienced in the last 10 years of reaching out to strangers, I have to agree.
My hope, let us old folks teach them well, and with a listening ear, consider their wisdom. After all, they are the future, and times are changing, my friends.
Roberto left us with this, A little embarrassing for me to share, but I must publish it as a tribute to you.
I ask you in reading it, to own it to yourselves and not of me. For it is a result of you, and I want no glory for its creation or growth.
So here it is. From Roberto through me to you: “I don’t believe in God, but if he does exist, I thank him for people doing things like what you are doing. You are bringing people together and that is what matters in this world.”
Bringing people together… for whatever had drawn us together in the growth of Sidewalk Ghosts. Joined in a charge of purpose, even a universal mission to maintain a positive perspective towards humanity, and not from government, our affiliations, or any other form of direction.
Please know with this statement I am not proclaiming revolution or advocating any form of disengagement from reality. What I am proposing is humbly this, that we look at one another with respect and compassion.
We don’t all have to be intimate friends, we don’t even have to agree with or want to befriend one another, for to even think of a global kumbaya society would be a completely unachievable proposition. But we can, at least, learn to throw less dirt as we strengthen our listening, and with that, perhaps in our alliances and battles, we might see what being in this together really means. Pass it on, my friends.