Reason and feeling each have gifts and limitations. Used well together they generate wise caring. There are examples of wise caring in earlier human societies and we have an opportunity today to build on them and enhance that capacity in our whole civilization.
Down deep within us – underlying everything that we think, feel and do – we find our needs burning brightly along with our values (the cultural expression of our needs). When I say “needs” I’m referring to deep universal needs, such as our needs for love, expression, nutrition, control, respect, etc. I’m not referring to the specific desires and strategies we pursue – like a new car or time with our children – in an effort to meet those fundamental needs.
Our fundamental needs and values are the wellsprings of our motivations. They stimulate us to understand what we need to do to find satisfaction and happiness. We use two primary tools in that pursuit: feeling and reason.
Feeling manifests as sensation, emotion, empathy, resonance, and gut impulses and responses. Our feelings orient us to what we want and get us moving toward and away from things. In contrast, reason works with facts, evidence, ideas, and logic. It helps us appraise what we want and don’t want, to make meaning of what’s happening, and to clarify HOW we should satisfy our needs.