Pedro’s American future
This is part of a series of interviews by Debilyn Molineaux, project director forAmericanFuture.US. The project's mission is to help everyday Americans to imagine a better future for themselves, and together we’ll write the next chapter of the United States of America.
Pedro Silva, director of engagement at YOUnify, has been a friend for several years. We have different backgrounds, upbringings, faith practices, etc. And yet, we feel close. What was funny about our interview is that we had two unexpected in-person opportunities, in two different cities during The Coffee Shop Tour. Instead of me interviewing him, we connected as friends. We both prioritize listening when our friends need to talk about what is troubling them. Our third attempt was successful and this interview took place on Dec. 11, 2023. It has been lightly edited for clarity.
Debilyn Molineaux: We are going to time travel today – within your current life. How far would you like to imagine together? We recommend somewhere between two and 20 years. What sounds right for you?
Pedro Silva: Twelve years, near the end of 2035.
DM: Let’s take a few deep breaths as the time machine takes us to this imagined future. I would like you to observe yourself there and respond to these questions. Where are you in 12 years?
PS: I’ll still be in Colorado, so my kids will finish school here. I’ll still be in this house that my daughters grew up in, only with bigger trees. The landscaping is matured. My relationship with my wife is close, really good. As far as people and community are concerned, I’ve cultivated a relational community. In 2035, we’ll be hosting more gatherings and more people will come to our house for engagement, conversation. The relationships are very deep.
DM: What will you be most proud of?
PS: Both of my kids are finishing high school and being in the world, expressing themselves powerfully and fully. My kids are the world to me. I can’t even talk about it without wanting to cry. I’m proud of giving my kids the rich opportunity to decide what to do with their lives. To model for them how to show up in the world as themselves and instill in them that they have the right to be here, without questioning their value or worth or contribution to the world. A good 75 percent of what I do is for my kids, for their stability. I don't want them to have to struggle like I did without stability. Part of how I do that is the public-facing work so my daughters have a model of how to speak up. I don’t want them to feel they have to be silent or hold themselves back. Most of the time, I’d rather not be public, and then I think about what I want for them and I do it. I’m proud of what I’ve lived into, so my kids know they can live a full life, too.
I’m also proud of the books I’ve written. The training I’ve provided to communities and organizations. In 2035, I’ve finally admitted to being a teacher, even though I didn’t think of myself that way in 2023. My contribution is to help others learn from my path. My path is about liberation.
I’m proud of helping people get liberated from stuff – people who are caught up in religious dogma that is not serving them. It could be political, too. Any type of institutional binding that doesn’t serve them. It could be liberating people from too much structure or liberating people from too little structure. If people haven’t been able, or not wanted to explore the world (beyond their comfort zone), I’m proud of helping snap people out of the standard programming or thinking. Being a model by not being trapped in my own beliefs or thinking.
My relationship with my wife – our relationship is awesome. We’ve created ways to help couples to liberate themselves from societal dogma about what relationships could be or become. Equality within the relationship while leaning into our own strengths. We have different faiths, but we rely on our faith to bring us together.
DM: How will you spend your day?
PS: Some of the happiest days I’ve ever had were when I got out of the military. I thought I was liberated because I only needed $2,000 per month to support myself. (laughing) I’d saved my salary and spent six to seven months writing poetry. I would take walks and hand people my poems. In 2035, I am doing this again. I’ll get up in the morning, write some poetry. I’ll go print them and hand them out to people I meet while walking. I’d love to live wholly from inspiration and creativity without having to track everything. Living like a breeze, blowing around.
I’ll be 60 then and I want to give freely to others. I want to add to people’s lives by bringing creativity to different spaces. Unless people want to give me money, I’ll do this for free. I don’t want to owe money to anyone. Maybe Universal Basic Income will be around, that would help. I’d like to paint, too.
DM: What’s the connection between writing books, teaching and this way you spend your day?
PS: I could be writing still, but mostly the books have been written and provide a source of income. Writing is more of a way of processing for me. I’d like to write a book that I would like to read.
DM: Maybe a book of poetry, too?
PS: Yeah. I’ve already published that, in 2023. I’d love to speak, too. From joy and sharing and teaching. Not for money. For example, when Paul was spreading the gospel, he kept his day job as a tentmaker to keep his message from influence by the patrons. I would like to be in a place where I’m financially stable, able to say no to opportunities. I call this “Eff you” money. I’ll have enough to be able to say no. Maybe have a work partner who can organize my writing and figure out the revenue stream aspect.
DM: How will you feel, most of the time?
PS: Like I just took a really, really deep breath and “ahh.” I would be feeling present and grounded in the moment. Fully embodied in how I show up. I’ve lived this in chunks of my life, before it was interrupted. It feels like heaven on Earth, a miracle.
DM: What will be your top three to five priority values?
PS: Honesty, authenticity, creativity, transparency, harmony.
DM: Would you like to expand on what those priority values mean to you?
PS: Every person is this unrepeatable miracle. And we are blessed to be human and discover, in wonder and curiosity, to create things that never existed before. And I feel like most people miss this. Our society hammers and oppresses people to conform to norms. The only way to avoid this is to be honest with yourself. This leads to being authentic in how we show up in the world. Our creative capacity is alchemical, especially when we are dealing with other people and emotions. Creatively, we can transform conflicts that happen. When we are changing, especially within intimate relationships, transparency can assist others in understanding who we are becoming. As we grow, we find harmony in the dynamics that allow us to be authentic with each other, without tension.
DM: That’s beautiful, Pedro. So what does the community that supports your future need to include?
PS: More Black people. (laughter) More diversity in general. I’m cultivating that in 2023, but we need to understand that we are not static people. We are all changing, all the time. Like a tree, I’m growing and there are new branches all the time. Very dynamic.
My transformation is not a betrayal to anyone or any community. The community needs to love my family and value authenticity. The community needs more kindness, where people see each other and make room for our authentic selves. The community needs to have the capacity to hold us when we are sloppy, unkind, angry and reminds us to come back to our humanity. Valuing the complete human, not just the productivity. There would be gratitude for creativity within the community.
DM: Is there anything you can do today or in the near future to influence or co-create the community that will support you in 2035?
PS: Yeah – meeting with people. Sharing the many dimensions of myself. I think I’ll start writing poems and handing them out again. I’ll begin experimenting with being creative. Getting out and speaking to groups more, guest pastoring and others. Podcasts too. Be authentic in public speaking venues. Wow, there’s a lot I can do right now.
I have an invitation for you. The invitation is to spend five minutes every day, thinking about your future self, feeling those feelings and include a sense of awe and wonder. This is based on neuroscience research that shows we subconsciously create what we focus on. So the choice is ours -- we can actually co-create the future we prefer instead of choosing from the dystopian options presented to us.
You can participate in the national research project by visitingAmericanFuture.us and scheduling a zoom interview or completing the self interview. Questions can be directed to debilyn@AmericanFuture.us.
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