The concept of Spirited Reasoning is not limited to political debate. Every day we are asked (or required) on multiple occasions to choose between one direction and another. For example, when driving to a destination, we could choose this route or that one. When shopping in a grocery store, we could choose this brand or that one. Life is full of choices.
When faced with this type of choice, the Spirited Reasoner has already answered the meta-question: “Why am I even making this choice?” That’s why we talked about “self-evident truths” in our last blog entry. We need to build our foundation first–asking where in this world we are standing–both literally and figuratively–and where in this world (or out of it) we wish to go. Then we are prepared to make our first choice.
So let’s say we find ourselves shopping for groceries. We’ve already answered the question about why we are shopping: Our family needs to eat to stay alive, and we want to choose the best selection of foods to achieve that “destination.” We also live within certain budget and time constraints. We choose our foods based on our knowledge of available funds and the time certain meals will require for preparation. Some Spirited Reasoners will determine that their time is so important that they are willing to pay more to select ready-to-eat meals that will require less time for preparation. Other Spirited Reasoners enjoy their time spent cooking, perhaps relaxing with friends and family while they cook. But in either case, the true Spirited Reasoner begins the process of shopping by understanding what he or she is trying to accomplish. Otherwise, the shopping cart winds up being a mess, and the meals that follow will be a hodgepodge of frustration and confusion–perhaps requiring another trip (or two or three) to the store.
Although most of these blog entries will involve American social and political life rather than traveling or shopping for groceries, the underlying process of our hearts and minds will be the same: We begin with a foundation of knowing who we are and where we are going. We then reason, with passion, in a manner designed to move us to our ultimate destination in the most satisfying manner.