Jennifer Schuster Jaeger and Gary Melom

Recorded January 16, 2021 Archived January 11, 2021 53:41 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: ddv000448


One Small Step conversation partners Jennifer Schuster Jaeger [no age given] and Gary Melom [no age given] share their thoughts on political systems, approaching change within those systems, roles of leadership, events that shaped their views, and how to co-exist with one another within society amidst deeply personal and conflicting views.

Subject Log / Time Code

JJ and GN describe lives (family, marriage, children, faith, etc).
GN shares his thoughts about engaging in work from a systems vs individual basis; JJ shares thoughts on how she approaches impacting the flow of systems.
GN shares thoughts on reasonable approaches to communication; shares about time as an intern for MN city council and what influenced a transition from working within the political system; JJ questions best approaches with those of differing views & how best to work together.
GN shares the manner of divide between faiths, in his early years, between the Protestant and Catholic communities and how that interplays with the manner of division between groups at present.
JJ and GN exchange thoughts on the best ways to approach coexistence in the midst of varied stances/beliefs.


  • Jennifer Schuster Jaeger
  • Gary Melom

Recording Location

Virtual Recording

Partnership Type




StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:01 My name is Jennifer Schuster Jaeger.

00:08 So now Jennifer I'm to read your bio statement and then we take off from there and then I'll be okay. Jennifer was born in Maine raised in a Boston suburb. I've lived in Minneapolis since 1998 both. My sons were born and raised here. I live with my husband Rich my son's Ben and Elliot. I am a woman of Faith with very spiritual practices and our family is part of first Universalist Church. My best friend died last year after 3 years with pancreatic cancer. My husband is a pilot for Delta which means we can travel easily. It's an amazing benefit. I am a leader at work.

00:59 And this is Gary Gary is a retired social worker who was involved in providing case management support to mentally ill adults. He says I've been retired for 6 years. I used to be politically active but haven't of late not sure why I'm concerned that tribalism and hair-trigger emotionalism contaminate the Public Square and ways that preclude productive engagement. I'm also not sure how to bridge value-driven disagreements like the passion surrounding abortion extant white nationalism Etc.

01:39 So

01:42 Show me start Gary. Do you want to take 5 minutes to tell me your life story 5 minutes. Write. Well, I was born in Swedish Hospital in Minneapolis, which is now one of the buildings incorporated into the HCMC complex downtown. My father was a high school teacher school teacher started out in Small Town North Dakota and worked his way up into larger and larger school systems. So we wound up living in Worthington in at that point. My father said he never wanted to live in a place larger than that. So we stopped moving around. So the the majority of my growing up years worrying Worthington.

02:40 I was very active in the speech and debate program in high school. We want a lot of tournaments either individually or speakers or his team's of Debaters came close to winning the state debate tournament two years in a row. And so that was a shaping factor for me because the debate coach was a brilliant teacher who convinced the school system to let us have a debate our within the the regular curriculum day. He spent some of that time teaching us sociology and psychology and statistics and symbolic logic and all kinds of things that were helpful, but probably most important just as

03:40 Framing

03:42 Intellectual development in the development of a kind of competence in life that has been embedded in me ever since so I tend to question because I've learned the value of that. I've learned to tolerate because I've learned that one can't always get the answer one once when one asks a question.

04:12 I spent some time in college not knowing why I was there ultimately checked out Round Up in the Army Round Up in Vietnam came back a full of Rage at the way lives were thrown away by American power structure Vietnamese lives as well as American lives that's sticks with me. I can't get rid of it. So I tend to park it is as much as I possibly can. I had quite a crazy. After getting out of the army ultimately went through a divorce spend some time getting my act together now been married as a decent marital partner for quite a long time. So 35 36 years.

05:12 I had a mishmash of employment after work while I was in my crazy years. It did a lot of things and ultimately landed as a social worker in Hennepin County dealing with mentally ill adults, which I found to be really engaging and useful work of which I could be quite proud. So that's about it came to the church. I guess Jennifer we can get to that later. We all have our own routes into that church. We seem to be recovering something or others and find her way into a uu church, so I'll leave it at that.

06:01 Thanks. That's actually it's super cool to hear more about your life. I mean, it just reminds me how much we totally don't know about each other and I don't know how many years I've sat and watched you and Barb in the pews, but you know, what do I know?

06:19 Are we just see the pieces right? Like Barb with you? No hats or whatever. It is that we're doing together at Simpson shelter cooking.

06:30 I don't know you'll have to help watch the time. So I was born right in the red box. It's in your upper. Right so I was born in Maine. My dad is a minister and he's also legally blind and that's ends has ended up shaping a lot of my life because he is a person who is legally blind long before the Americans with Disabilities Act. So he's from Florida and he went blind he went he became legally blind when he was in like junior high school. So he worked his way through high school and then Community College and then college and did well having readers then he went on to Seminary.

07:16 Finish Seminary tried to go back to Florida to have his life only to discover that Florida really wasn't all that excited about having blind ministers who didn't sort of look look the part and so he wrote to all these different District superintendents to be like, hey, I'm looking for a job and a district superintendent in Far Northeast Main wrote back and hired him. So while he was in seminary he met my mom her roommate was one of his readers and they married right after she finished college and he had finished Seminary and my mom moved from Boston to farworld main. So my Dad's here coming from Florida and my mom's coming from Boston and there in like almost up by the Canadian border in DownEast, Maine which you know now as an adult I'm like God that must have been nuts. So they moved around every every few years with different churches there were methodists and

08:16 He eventually decided to become a hospital chaplain. That's a job that you can do in one place. So my mother wouldn't have to drive him to go visiting all the time. But I think you know, he experienced a good amount of discrimination in his life living with a disability. And then also my parents having sort of different roles, right? My mom's the driver. My dad's not my mom's the one who fixes things my dad's not and he taught clinical pastoral education. So I was raised in a really strong Church environment to Liberal Church environment and the being a part of a church has always been a part of my conception of the world in my community. So we ended up settling when I was a young child in a suburb outside of Boston and affluent suburb kind of like the Edina of Boston and my parents took that for public transportation and good school. So I went to high school there. I had a great education in the public schools, and I wanted to leave Boston cuz I didn't want to live my life my whole life in Boston. So I applied to college and found

09:15 College in Minnesota and came here to go to college so spend some time here in college. I majored in Latin American studies. I've always been interested. In other people other cultures in other languages when I was a really important event in my life was when I was 17. I went finish high school early and went and lived in Honduras. So this was during the time of the Iran contras and I lived with an exchange student would live with my family, but it was the first time I had been a minority and a community where I stood out cuz I was white cuz I was headlight eyes because I was American and there were a lot of different feelings about America at that time both reviled and sort of adored. So I lived in Honduras and that really was a very big turning point for me to see myself.

10:03 I'm not to see the world in a bigger picture and see myself in a different way. So went to college with Latin American Studies major. I came back to Boston. I worked in Boston and a school-based Health Center and it was one of the first school-based health centers in Boston in a high school. That was probably four miles or five miles down the highway from my high school and was just incredibly struck by the difference in the experiences that the kids were having in that Alternative High School in Boston. And what look like smart choices for them and what my experience has been 5 miles out the highway in a different school system and what smart choices look like to me and sort of really blowing up that idea that the United States is a place of equal opportunity and what looks smart depending on where you sit so those were those were really important formative experiences. I went on from that high school to work in public health. Hoping to change the environment people lived in as well as the fact there's a lot of violence in Boston a lot of Youth violence a kid.

11:03 Murdered in the school while I was working their kids were morning all the time because they were losing friends. And yeah and then Carolina for public health for Community Health. I came back to Boston. I work there I met Rich through ad in the Boston Globe. We dated he got a job out here.

11:29 Several years of up and down, you know happened eventually. I came out here to give the relationship a shot and we ended up married and we still are so then we had our kids and I've been working in government starting in Hennepin County in public health first then in Social Services and Public Health in the hsphd department and then in Corrections, and then I moved over to work for Ramsey County about 5 years ago. And I think some of the themes that have run for through my work are about increasing opportunity and Equity. Like I carry this really deep.

12:04 Unsettled feeling from from the things I've seen in the stories. I got told as a young person and a white person and what I have seen in real life in this country and my jobs tend to be about changing systems, hopefully for more Equity. So I do things Juvenile Justice Reform when I was in Corrections data contracts, and now I'm running some Human Services Administration in Ramsey County.

12:34 And parenting, you know had kids. I love my kids love my husband.

12:43 Okay.

12:45 All right.

12:47 So that

12:50 It's fascinating to me.

12:53 Well all the all the time I worked as a social worker. I assiduously avoided knowing the names of bureaucrats more than one layer above me generally only wanted to know my supervisor's name and got to be sort of known and accepted as a kind of a rebel not.

13:27 Interested in changing the system so much as figuring out how to work within it to get what my clients needed. So I was

13:39 Using the county as a resource, but not as a system that I

13:48 Accepted or actually believed in it was just there and it paid my way. And so I'm hearing you talk about being invested in changing systems, which I think is in a honorable thing to be engaged in and it must be incredibly frustrating the times. I tried to advocate for change a failed miserably so I honor someone who's had a level of success at it at the

14:27 Building Systems and in thinks of ways to make them better. I think that's very important so hats off to you but it strikes me the different implicit philosophies. We had in that value-driven very much the same but a bifurcated approach to what should happen and I'm guessing also like, you know, I don't actually like working with individuals that much right like when I decided to go into public health cannot be a nurse practitioner. It was kind of the choice you're talking about about working with people. I'm infinitely interested in the system and I am theoretically interested in the individuals like I care about people but to actually work with them every day isn't where my passion is right. So then how does also our individual orientation and skills and Passions?

15:26 In a feet into where we fit in that system, correct? Yes. I keep thinking it took me.

15:35 A very short while to disabuse myself of the things I had learned in graduate school. Learn how to

15:46 Take a profoundly schizophrenic man on a shopping trip to Target, you know that and so that was you know that lit my candle. It was like they were a constant source of consternation but also useful challenge for me. It made me feel connected in a way that resonated and I think that's really cool. Like I think that's a gift to which is what so interesting like that. You know, it's surprising to me that what I do feels like foreign and some way

16:26 To you because it feels really natural to me right about like what you know, I can look at the end of Vision on like yeah, I like you but wow, look at this environment you're in it's so bad. Let me try and change the environment like that's where I go. Yeah, and you know, it's it's like one of my

16:49 Pet peeves was how hard it is to provide transportation services for people starting with bus passes, but I figured out was that the the woman who actually issued bus passes could be approached and it got a hell of a lot better if I would bring her a bag of M&M peanut M&Ms. And so I love that people I worked with

17:26 Used to wonder how I always had bus passes to give to my people when they were having bureaucratic Hang-Ups and I kept saying well, you got to be nice to say thank you. And you know, you don't call people you don't send a memos you go stand in front of them and engage and so that's my approach to systems. They're there to be understood but not loved you actually have to call them and talk to them and then look for your opportunities about what they care about right? Like what's driving, right? So, you know, what's you're driven by how much you love your clients and trying to figure out how to do that. Right? So then we talk we're going to talk about that. But you know the same thing something different but something is driving, you know, the Boss 3 levels up to

18:24 And I want to know what that is and then have a relationship with them.

18:29 Yeah, so my boss three levels up was actually my first supervisor who was a political animal and kept getting promoted. Oh he was before my time. Okay, so that's that's somebody that's something that should not be aired here. I guess, you know, but as he got power he kept assigning me to committees because he and I used to have interesting conversations, but I would never go to committee meetings and the people I work with kept saying wild. How do you get away with it? And I would say what I don't know. I am busy I got things to do. You know it so that that was kind of a piece of it. I guess it's just

19:26 What what works for me is to be outside the government center in and on the street and meanwhile, we definitely needed people like you because the system itself was.

19:45 Shall we say unwieldy?

19:49 So tired right like you you have to do I mean as a leader you have to sometimes you're doing harm to people and and changing systems is difficult and you have to sort of make these trade-offs. And and then how do I do that with as much Integrity as I can?

20:10 Yeah, for sure. One of the things I was curious about to ask you after I was reading your bio and and thinking about your experience is when it's thinking about politics now and like what you learned working with people who are profoundly different from you with mental illness. Like what have you learned about that that can inform our current political moment?

20:44 I

20:48 I guess one of my deepest.

20:51 Tests

20:53 Is

20:55 Whether there's a possibility for

20:59 Intelligent dialogue meaning

21:04 You know Communications Theory 101, I hear you. I see you seeing me seeing you that kind of connection the most basic.

21:21 And

21:26 I have always.

21:30 Just trusted.

21:33 A great deal of the political energy that I've encountered because it tends to be a form of groupthink.

21:45 Where it where it's pretty easy to be characterized as a as an outlier, and it's a dynamic that applies to liberals and conservatives alike to wear at some point.

22:05 There's an agreed on agenda.

22:10 That may or may not have any rational basis and may or may not lead to calls for action.

22:19 Did actually generate positive change that are merely an exercise of some a group psychosis.

22:33 And so, you know, I drink during my crazier years. I was an intern with the Minneapolis city council for about five years right before they professionalize the whole aldermanic assistant thing. It was like they were hiring Urban Corps interns and paying us almost nothing but fascinated me.

23:03 And so I became very active politically for quite a while.

23:10 But ultimately, I just lost a tolerance for the group think that was not based on any deliberative inquiry just based on who was more persuasive in the legislative district meetings

23:28 So I just I don't know if it really gets to what you're talking about her thinking about but

23:36 Ultimately, it was more just a way to avoid becoming frustrated and angry.

23:44 Yeah, where I am really struggling. I have a sister-in-law who is really conservative. And so, you know, we're really struggling with how do you engage with someone who really disagrees with you and you don't feel like you can connect on and in some ways it feels, you know, almost like a mental illness like you can't you can't connect and you don't know where to go and yet you need the relationship to be because it's a family relationship and and so there's some places where there's difference and you can really engage across the difference and really see the person and in this case, you know in this Emilio context we can see each other but in the political context, it's so hard and it feels almost almost like she's mentally ill which I don't think she is but you know that idea about you can't kind of grass but, in reality together

24:41 Yeah.

24:42 Can you get see that's that's the thing that I

24:48 And no offense, but I was surprised when you and I wound up doing this because I had been led to believe I would be talking with someone quite different from me. Right that was the idea. And so this is going to be cool. I like it because you know, but we've been in Circle Cypress together and stuff and I know in like you and trust you and all that. So the question is, you know, when you put a pro-birth person in the room with a pro-choice person

25:27 You are juxtaposing profoundly deeply emotionally held beliefs. It's not the sort of thing. You can ultimately say, you know, it it's it's like we're not choosing a type of asphalt to be used for the for the city streets. This is fundamental and at some level non-negotiable. And so then how do you navigate that Chasm that's come to in interest me more and more and more all along. How how do we manage to live together?

26:11 And I I have someone in my family who puts a lot of Facebook stuff out that is profoundly different from what I believe.

26:27 And yet I know to be in daily life of a very good person.

26:34 And so

26:36 I don't know. I I have hopes, you know that there will be

26:42 Someway, I increasingly believe that one of the key Dynamics is leadership that at base. We are all sheep and can be herded into one Corral or another by adroit manipulators and idea probably Gators. And anyone in the testimonial is the Trump years the astonishing destruction, but I keep thinking.

27:24 Is have we crossed some ill-defined Rubicon in terms of the legitimacy of anti-social beliefs that it's okay for me to hate you?

27:43 And that I don't have to really think about your welfare.

27:47 Which seems to be a movement away from certavite a sense of commonality.

27:57 And until I think about that a lot lately.

28:02 You know, I think about it in the context of this sister-in-law and then you know, my mother-in-law is is older and she has this lovely caretaker who originally from the country of Georgia and both the sister-in-law and the caretaker are really lovely both with my mother-in-law and generous and so many ways and yet at the same time have these beliefs that I find to be

28:28 Offencive right and my mother-in-law is a holocaust Survivor. So it's a Jewish Family and and to have this belief in someone and a system that I find to be anti-semitic and white nationalist and and sort of the antithesis of what has allowed this family to survive and allowed my mother-in-law to you know, hide and survive World War II and and how do I have integrity in my interactions with them kind of trying to see them as a whole person with dignity right like the inherent inherit light in every person which is in my sister-in-law in this caretaker and that they express in ways of generosity and caring with a person I care for and at the same time a spouse these beliefs that

29:21 I can't I can't square with with what I know about the world.

29:30 Yeah, I think about growing up in small-town Minnesota people make fun of it but it was a profound thing which was the Divide between the Catholics and lutherans the

29:46 If you knew the religion of some shop owner you tried to avoid going in there my puppy love was this little Catholic girl who live kitty corner from us and all through school my father and I fought over whether or not it would be okay for me to date her so we would just meet at dances and then the spies would tell my father I've been dancing with her and we'd have another raging argument is so fundamental.

30:19 A split with no evident method of Bridging the Gap but yet.

30:27 Worthington functioned as a city

30:33 And ultimately people came to see how inappropriate that division was, but I think about how do we how do we have a civil society?

30:50 With such profound belief differences and now evidently the insertion of a belief.

30:58 That it's okay to go raise hell and storm the nation national capital. I need there's there's a we passed some kind of line.

31:15 Yeah, and I wonder if you know the story about sort of Protestants and Catholics. My mother tells me that same story from her growing up in Boston and Chad Catholic cousin to told her she was going to hell cuz she was a Protestant and they couldn't run in the same pools, right? So I can't remember who could someone couldn't go to the Y and someone else couldn't go somewhere else. So those are the profound differences that have existed for generations. And you know, these are within people who today now we've regrouped to say, you know, Catholics and Protestants have the same but the other is someone else right the other is you know, what you or the other is another race, but the saying profound difference is and how do we live with those and I think you know, a lot of the stuff to has been has been going on forever between white people and people of color, but it was just, you know back in the day the groupings were much smaller, but now it

32:15 Kind of come to the fore and and where do we find that commonality and sense of humanity? I mean, I keep thinking about you bringing peanuts to the person about peanut M&Ms the person with the bus pass which is almost the antithesis of this right like you show up and you see her as a person and you interact with her in a way regardless of that and

32:38 And I feel like some of that at least is a little bit lost for me now and I really don't want to be a part of this cancel culture. I can't have a relationship with you because you believe differently with from me cuz that also trounces on a core value of mine right like the core value that you're a whole person and that everyone is better than there were Stacks. I mean, I got to say 10 years and Corrections is good for the soul. Right? You really have to think about forgiveness and change and what people want to do and the role of society and the harm we do. I mean Corrections full of deep human questions and control I mean like,

33:23 So so like I believe that right that people aren't defined by their worst act that there is redemption that there is a way to be more than what you have been and two we have to have Waze as individuals in a community to come back from harm.

33:41 So that's a deep value, but it's also a deep value that you're not racist or Nationalist. And what what do people in Germany do when when their family members were like, it's just a political party. I'm just you know, I'm doing what I have to do to get by and I'm a Nazi like like when do we drop the client and how and ways that aren't more divisive. Yes, and why does

34:10 A criminal sentence not invoke the question in a meaningful way of how did we get to this point with this particular person and I would say

34:23 30% of the people. I worked with head criminal records. What I consider to be meaningful criminal records many more of them had Petty offenses that are part of their record, but really not that ever led to incarceration.

34:47 But it's like

34:49 How do we how do we keep going forward and not ask the most Elemental questions? And why do we sync? Why did we ever think it made sense to send somebody to jail because we picked him up and he had a joint in his pocket. How does that work? If it's not there's no logic there until you start to see the prison industry is a profit Center. And so I yeah, I guess people are in are less than that. My white son was a joint is a kid who made a mistake and that young person on the street with a joint is a criminal or as less than human right now. That's a fundamental flaw in two and you had to have seen that close up on a daily basis for a

35:51 Right as well as working through change process. He's right like, you know, ultimately at its best Corrections is about helping people change Corrections about helping people, you know, hopefully live live live says that are contributing members of the community and and so often the people who are in those situations are people who have been mistreated or had bad luck and then you get you get on that path and you can't get off exactly and then pretty soon the cops know who you are and stop you every time you're on the sidewalk and if you have dark skin, it's even more likely much more if we have some personal experience with that. And so yeah, it's data shows it all to every jurisdiction every place every decision Point people of color fare worse, and it becomes just normal like it becomes what you expect to see and and we lose the horse.

36:51 What we're seeing in so that's where your systems mentality is far more useful than my one-on-one mentality well.

37:06 Maybe but I think right now we need you more than me.

37:16 How how are we supposed to get back to where we can coexist with people we disagree with I think you may you might have a more elevated view of how that should work. But we all have to do things everyday in our everyday life that helps to.

37:41 Figure out how to make this void last ride because Timmy like like what we see now in our country, it would be super helpful. If if Republicans would renounce the lying right like to me that's really the line that has underlined the last 4 years of a particular the president but then the enabling of those lies.

38:03 Is I feel like that destruction that destruction of a sense of Truth is the deepest destruction we've done and we've got to figure out now in 300 million little ways.

38:18 How we don't make that worse and how we start to back away from that and how do we start to do that? And that's where I come back to the question of leadership someone to shine a light on the path out of it.

38:34 I have loved a great deal of Joe Biden's approach so far. It's just been steadfastly not getting caught in the political Wars and just insisting on trying to come together to solve major problems in and I hope he can hold to that because I think if we can get enough.

39:05 Meters to

39:09 Enter follow that basic theme

39:14 Ave, I think play the large percentage of the people

39:20 Who supported Trump might be persuadable into a more moderate stance?

39:27 We're never going to deal with the Boogaloo boys accepting a control kind of way. A lot of people we can go to looking for the opportunities for persuasion.

39:42 Saying you know, I move over this way a little bit and take a look at what it what it takes to get vaccines and everybody's arm and help us do that.

39:59 How do we do it? Like I feel like sometimes when I think about I feel like you and I are in the same like liberal block that also has a huge amount of intolerance inside of it.

40:11 Up 10 minutes as in our liberal block with the intolerance. How do we move towards some of this, you know calling in or building our relationships with each other and not this I can't stand that person because they espouse this which means they hate those people which means I can't be in relationship with them, which means they are less than you.

40:36 Yeah, well you and I live in to eat. Both of us are in two different kinds of liberal blocks. One is the political liberalism. The other is the religious liberalism and the religious liberalism that we participate in.

40:57 Brings forward some values that

41:03 Can be may be brought to the political liberalism of the inherent worth of each person. I think we have to talk about that more I think.

41:18 We have to be.

41:21 Less involved

41:25 Well

41:28 And that are Marching and shouting has to have only

41:33 Unlimited durability and then we sit down and in think about why we are outraged.

41:42 And how do we express that to someone else? You know, you know Ruth Bader Ginsburg said when you win try to win in a way that the most people can accept it and I think there's an incumbent responsibility there that most people don't engage in so that's that's that thing of connecting. That's my one to one priority, but on a mass scale

42:20 And so then how do you convert it? How do you make it useful politically?

42:31 When a lot of the people who are politically involved

42:37 Don't seem to want to go beyond a win-lose kind of mentality. I'm righteous people were thrown in jail for all the wrong reasons. And if you can't see that you dumb son of a bitch. I'm just going to try to run over top of you and since so.

43:00 Again, I fall back on it at this juncture. I think we have to rely on leadership to articulate.

43:11 A way to return to better ways of living with each other when we disagree.

43:20 Yeah, instead of trying to get rid of the people we disagree with or eliminate them from our world because it ain't going to happen. And what time does it causes more trouble can't do that. It's not practical inside. I think you know that I can't I I go back to the thing of that's where we need your system mentality because it's being acutely aware of what you are putting into the system. As you know, Ian what was it a 1965 9mm and publish know it wasn't you was it I'm I'm blocking on the author, but it was General systems theory the first significant book on General systems theory.

44:19 Blocking on the author at any rate the Striking sentence in that book that I will never forget. He said

44:28 When we say one and one are two

44:33 We are concerned with the end their relationship interesting.

44:41 And so that you know that periodically has gotten me in trouble because it leads me away from doctrinaire in policy-driven crap into okay, but what's the relationship based on but you have to have the relationships to form those policies and who you call in and call out for that formulation in some ways determines what you do like, we're moving now to really have so much more emphasis on people who have lived experience of the system and this is something Ramsey is doing a lot of incorporating people with lived experience into our decision-making and when you start to do that, the people who have the lived experience with the system the conversation shifts and the priorities shift and the policy shift because

45:41 That experience isn't included when you have people who are looking at the system, but haven't had to live with it and you started out in school when you were seeing the difference in the two schools. The one that you grew up in and the one five miles down the road that you worked in and the radical difference in Opportunity there.

46:07 Right and what was smart for people right like that is something I would just sit and look at those kids and I'd be synced because I was in I was 22 size clothes and age close to the stage clothes and space I be like, oh my God, I understand why they're doing what they're doing if that were my world there making smart choices.

46:27 And that's why we need you because I never could translate that kind of knowledge into a committee meeting. That's that's where we we have to have you because ultimately you'll do more to make change than I

46:56 In different ways for different people and we never know how that all plays out. Right? Like, what did you do that change someone that you don't know about and vice-versa right? Like you just I keep thinking about trying to think I worked with this wonderful woman at Hennepin and I'm guessing you know her Karen with a W who is in charge of child protection and she would be about your generation of Hennepin workers, but she always said to have any change work you based basically have to have one big I have an idea that basically no one can disagree with and so the example she used was the children do better in homes. Like this is for foster care reform. So she told me early on when we were doing all this work on forming a performing at the hsphd and other changes we were doing but that was one of her big learning over the course of her career was to make you know, you have to have one big idea that basically no one can disagree with

47:56 You're trying to do something. So in Corrections, we have things like Mork more Community less Consignment, right? That's a big idea. People can understand it kids do better and homes where where people know them in lots of right. Those are all big idea that you can get a broad swath of people engaged in and so I don't know exactly why but that statement as we've been talking today is keeping coming back to me as we're talking about healing like what are some of those look like what's an idea for moving forward in our country that pretty much no one can disagree with to give us some common ground to talk about how to do it.

48:37 Yeah, I'm I'm right there with you. Yeah, it's his like again Ruth Bader Ginsburg one of her major victories and gender-based rights was when she brought a lawsuit claiming a man had been discriminated against that does a principal became the dominant question bright and a big idea that no one could disagree that she just Illustrated and account in a very surprising way of illustrating it in a way that

49:14 That everyone's sort of pre-existing ideas. But you know, one of the things we've been talking about about how do we live together with the people who are who we disagree with like, you know, what the big idea that, you know, people have value and should be allowed to have their beliefs or we do better when we work together. I think Joe Biden has been starting to say those things if we could start to pull some of those out where we pull them out of our faith community or pull them out of Joe Biden or pull them out of ourselves that we have some common ground to talk about with

49:51 Are people who believe differently but we're I mean, like I know if my sister-in-law I could find common ground that caring for my mother-in-law is really important. She is a person of tremendous value and but what else could we do?

50:11 Well, I have discovered one pass n-word in that that is Howard Thurman the his notion of the inward Sea and the island in the inward. See that is the self the true self and I keep thinking somewhere being able to use that to develop my own wisdom to accept the existence of disagreement might be my beginning.

50:44 It is not the end. It's only the beginning of finding my way out of that particular a problem.

50:54 I see the dawn has joined us again, Dino.

50:59 Got this beautiful woman sitting there just staring at her.

51:19 We are Unitarian Universalist a way to understand the meaning of that is the saying that a uu is someone who with one tree can construct an entire Forest within which they promptly get lost.

51:38 That is sadly true. We can talk all day to sit and talk at a deeper level with you Gary and to sort of slow down and think about different things and to you know, at some point I would also really like to hear more about what your experience in Vietnam has meant for the rest of your life. Like that was something else I thought about when when you were talking about, you know, what you learned there and and that suffering and what that has what that is meant to which we obviously can't do in their last minute, but I'm really curious about that anytime call me maybe that would be fun to do it. This is been a really I really fun conversation. I really enjoyed. Yeah, it's been a hell of a lot more useful to me than I thought it would be I was expecting to be talking to a Muslim and learning.

52:38 A whole lot but I'm talking to a uu and learning a whole lot.

52:46 Yeah, the power of stories just always amazes me when I listen to The Moth on the radio and I realize like I can't turn this off because I want to know how it ends and then I think about my work that uses data and I think how easy it is to put that all like, oh, yeah, whatever like stories just are so much more powerful. There was a big piece of my belief all along. It's like categories are one thing but stories are so much more youthful. I got to learn that more because I'm really good with categories. Well for both of us in our line of work, I always said the only real magic lies in questions. I completely agree a good question is forever and answer is bounded time and place.

53:39 So I