“Sympathy” and “Antipathy” seem to fall into the general classification of animal “instincts.” The definition of “instinct” is broken down into two categories: “automatic” and “natural.” Whichever they may be, instincts dictate or control the pattern of animal behavior that leads to association or dissociation with other animals. In each particular case of attraction, there seems to be an unseen force that draws two animals together. Likewise, when an animal distrusts or avoids another, there must be some reason for that rejection. Therefore I believe there ought to be some specific explanation for why a creature is attracted to another or not.
We are all familiar with the Law of Gravity. Heavy masses automatically attract lighter ones. At least those lighter objects that are traveling too slow to escape the heavier object’s force field. An object with lesser mass speeding along faster than an acknowledged escape velocity or located at a certain distance too far to be attracted, can resist the pull of gravity from another object with more mass and maintain its trajectory through so-called “empty” space. The essential factors of differential speeds and of the proximity between two masses determine whether or not a gravitational attraction is accepted or rejected.
Likewise, an iron filing is attracted to a magnet, if that filing is located within the magnet’s force field. Somehow a magnet’s force field is capable of differentiating between those substances that are susceptible to its attractive power and those that aren’t.
In nature, there appears to be some inherent reason why a “living” entity apparently possesses the capability of distinguishing between those things which are desirable and those that aren’t. In dealing with anything, humans normally attach negative connotations to something rejected to explain their reason for rejection and positive connotations to anything that is deemed desirable or attractive.
There are many human scenarios where a person is attracted to or rejects another person. An unseen impetus for drawing closer to or moving apart from others seems to ignite our human feelings both automatically and naturally. Human decision-making criteria can be based on a variety of factors, such as: appearance, attire, talents, mutual interests, attitudes, behavior, and even a parental compassion for the needy and helpless. Since individual choices vary in selecting someone else for an on-going social, business, or an intimate relationship, it appears that the selection of a human candidate considered “attractive, desirable, or useful” more often than not results from a quick internal evaluation process that is both inherited and tempered by education and experience.
Human decisions can be unreasonable, and many of them are made arbitrarily. Tough decisions often exhibit evidence of prejudice, bias, and the use of profiling techniques. None of which are repugnant in themselves unless an irrational, learned prejudice is involved in skewing the judgment of the decision-maker in a way that may not benefit him or her. Hiring, marrying, or socializing with all eligible candidates is impossible. Loving both friends and enemies is unlikely, and tolerating flaws and indications of unacceptable behavior is unreasonable and impracticable.
Although most humans aspire to be welcome by peers and accepted by strangers, initial impressions and evaluations can be misleading, disappointing, demoralizing, and infantile. Many individuals lack the intuition and objectivity in sensing how they are actually being evaluated by others. Secrecy in making choices is vital to creating subsequent relationships between the decision-maker and the candidate being accepted or rejected.
Many humans disapprove of the human propensity to follow their primitive animal instincts. It may be “cool” or expected to like some folks and dislike others. We can’t “love” everyone, especially our most despised enemies. To embrace enemies may be advisable in an ideal Utopia on some inhabitable planet located in some distant solar system, but not on Earth. We are an intelligent enough species to ascertain the differences that tribal and national cultures have and to avoid conflict with other humans over significant issues. We are taught from infancy to reject anyone who disagrees with us and others like us without admitting that no two people are alike, neither are two tribal cultures and two vague national identities.
The human population should be instructed in conflict resolution, negotiation, and techniques for settling disagreements. The courts are overloaded, and our laws and judges are biased. We can’t agree about what services our governments should provide and how to pay for them. The basic rules about how individuals should behave in society are tentative and subject to a majority vote of 100 Senators and some 435 Representatives in Congress, each of whom has a personal agenda, a regional orientation, and a political party that guides him or her. (Not to mention the influence of some religious affiliation.)
With human life as complicated as it has become, it is more and more difficult to accept the dynamic changes in social mores and government imposed regulations. Every difference of opinion over the events and constraints that affect our daily lives directly or indirectly adds to the various nuances in our criteria for accepting and rejecting other humans who do not share our views. Consequently, most human relationships today are superficial and not intimate.
We suspect strangers until some form of communication, either superficial or profound, gives us sufficient cause for having confidence that the stranger will not harm us. As we learn more about him and her, we can become more animated toward continuing the relationship. On the other hand, we can become “turned off” by the stranger’s attitudes, opinions, spoken dialect, or body language.
Whatever the stranger’s response, we should be aware that preliminary evaluations can be misleading and that euphoric reactions are inappropriate. Regardless of how much information we obtain about the stranger, we must guard against coming to any extreme conclusions about that person. Even after a long exposure to a “close friend,” we must never ignore the fact that it is impossible to know what actually is going on in his or her mind.
If we can honestly accept the social reality we live in, we must admit that we are attracted to people most like ourselves and reject those who aren’t. All the proclivities, interests, desires, and flaws which we possess aren’t likely to be inherent in our selected acquaintances. However, since what we may dislike in other humans could be beneficial to us in the future, we should endeavor to be objective in evaluating the innate characteristics of the person being avoided or “discarded.”
Is it possible to rule out instinctual “profiling” of others in such a complicated animal system of determining acceptance and rejection of other humans?