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It is a challenge for me to write, “I never encountered a living thing I didn’t like.” There have been many encounters with living things that brought me considerable suffering. For example, accidentally being too near poison oak several times brought on a non-stop itching that covered large portions of my body, and it lasted for weeks. Mosquitoes in my sleeping room can be annoying, with their biting, itching, and sleep-depriving buzzing. I’ve encountered rattlesnakes too, and fortunately for me their buzzing warned me not to come any closer. I go to an off-leash dog park often, and frequently encounter excessively friendly dogs who jump and try to lick my face, and occasionally aggressive ones.

There are many other examples of annoying and sometimes dangerous behavior from living things, with the characteristic of appearing hostile. The common need underlying all of these behaviors is that they are all just doing their particular thing for enhancing their own life experience. Once you realize what they are attempting to do, it becomes easy to adjust your behavior to accommodate their needs and you can become friends. I haven’t explored the possibility of becoming friends with snakes, but I have known people who have, and claim an affinity. Also, I don’t have much personal experience with birds, but I routinely have some short conversations with a neighborhood parrot. One of its favorite calls is “Hi neighbor!” Other things are just calling back and forth, but without any verbal meaning to me.

When you respect living things’ basic survival needs, your relationship can be friendly. Even big cats, who when hungry would choose to eat us, can be friendly if they are well fed. Thus, when relating to living things, carefully observe what will enhance their life experience and respect it. Be especially respectful of what will threaten them. Hostility always brings resistance and defensiveness, and threat brings strong, rigid, violent reactions.

I suspect that the billions of humans you will never meet in person are friendly when you can treat them as friends. Of course there are social roles that will create conflicts based on their group’s self-interest in survival. Even these can be overcome with friendly personal behavior. The world traveler Rick Steves says he is always friendly when encountering new people, and if that doesn’t work he is even friendlier.

Everything needs help to survive and they must get it from friends.

 

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