“Hi,” I greeted her back. She smiled and continued walking down the hill with her children. I smiled and made my way up the hill to go to class.
Here we could observe two adult humans in their natural habitat, concrete sidewalks between brick buildings featuring scattered and almost inexistent plant material. She waves in order to fulfill the instinctual human greeting gesture. If you were another species looking in the glass from outside, you would have just observed the human greeting ritual. Although not always the same in form, the human greeting ritual invariably includes a wave or a sound that resembles “hi.” In this case, the subjects knew each other with a sort of familiarity. What would the case be had there been some sort of tension between these two animals? If they had mated before, would there be a sense of guilt because she’s a married one? If they were strangers would the mother and her younglings scurry by trying to ignore the oncoming subject? If the male subject seemed threatening in some way, what would be the mother’s reaction?
It’s almost fun trying to enumerate the possible outcomes of the plausible scenarios that would take place. You can probably calculate with some degree of certainty what would happen in each of those cases because we are animals. Animals tend to react similarly when threatened. That is to say the instinct is to protect one’s self. What would the rational animal do when faced with any of these numerous possibilities?
When living in New York City, it’s easy to notice that the Greeting Ritual is many times forgotten, omitted, or ignored. Walking down the street in the city grants you this “inalienable” right to ignore other animals that you would normally greet with a smile or a furtive hello. Do other animals greet their familiar friends? Do they ignore strangers? Do they aggress perceived predators? If they do then it seems we’re on the same level. We’re all just people.