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One of the simple things I enjoy after a hard workout at the gym is to sit in the dry sauna. It's a hundred seventy degrees in there. If that's not hot enough, the men and women in there start talking. Usually it starts with a comment about prices of groceries and gas, childcare, and traffic. Mundane stuff, but if folks stay in there long enough, the conversations turn political, comments arise about values, then eventually God is invoked (pietistically or in blasphemy).

Yesterday it was about the prices dropping in the housing market. There were some well-to-do retirees there who worried about their retirement investments and there were a couple middle-aged folks concerned about their equity. One guy, though, mentioned the destabilization in the neighborhoods due to foreclosures. At first some got drawn into that conversation because any drain on the neighborhood, was a strain on their property investments. But then an amazing thing happened. People began to talk about how neighborhoods needed to share in more meaningful community, people getting to know their neighbors and caring about each other. The conversation skipped the politic (which in Idaho usually means blaming the Democrats) and went to straight to the values we share in common.

One of the books I am going through now is Barak Obama's The Audacity of Hope. In the opening chapter, he makes the point that we really want to be able to talk to each other outside the ideological positions. In fact, until can get out of the red-state/blue-state mentality we will not be capable of any real reform in government.

When the sauna conversation skipped politics and went straight to shared values and hopes, we skipped the ideological/political stage. It's been only a few weeks since the election, but are we rally beginning to take seriously the idea of listening to each other? I hope this becomes a habit.