There are now three recognized reactions when confronted with something startling or potentially dangerous: flight, fight, or freeze (can also be considered a category of flight). The physical reactions at the beginning of all the reactions are very close to the same, the subsequent actions are the determining factors of the strategy and the label that will prevail. The individual reactions have been developed from early childhood on; none speak to the character or value of the different beings having the reactions, though males tend toward aggression and females toward flight. Those who always fly or always fight will have more difficulty coming unscathed from all their negative encounters since they are much less able to adapt to these situations than those who take a brief moment to evaluate it, then decide which reaction to go with. Always fighting is more likely to create an even worse situation than the original one, always fleeing may not resolve the problem, and freezing is a temporary solution at best, one must prepare for flight or fight once the paralysis , voluntary or not, has lifted. These strategies have their positive and negative aspects but one must learn to use them only when one must. A society of beings all fighting or flying all at same time all the time wouldn’t work very well. There must be an organization, a pattern in all societies that allows its members to live unthreatened lives the majority of the time. There are bodily functions that are activated or depressed when an individual is threatened that can hurt that individual if they go on too long. One must be able to live in proximity with different species or see the end of your own species from unnatural or extensive fright responses. The flight or fight response must be finely honed because there will be circumstances when it is necessary for survival, but thinking about those circumstances so much that a healthy balance cannot be maintained is a mistake you don’t want to make. Wouldn’t you like to have your chosen response ready to be used and not blunted by overuse?
I believe the definition of cohabit is not comprehensive and should not begin by describing the cohabitation of only two people since the word encompasses so much more than a simple household arrangement between two consenting adults, though the two people may not think it so simple. There are graduated levels of cohabitation including the entire globe and ranging down to a small enclosure of chickens; cohabitation includes the coexistence of animals as well as that of humans. The definition should not stop there since we humans do share our living spaces with animals and a case could be made that animals have always shared, or had to share, their living spaces with us. These instances are as valid as the legalese used to define the word in human cases, though perhaps those non-humans we share with should seek legal recourse at times. We assume that other species agree to cohabit with us, or at least will not complain or become a ‘nuisance.’ We, however, cannot seem to learn to cohabit with or to accommodate humans in our own villages, towns, and cities. We could do worse than observe and study ‘wild’ life in our urban settings and take some lessons from the accommodations they make every day. accommodation does not have to mean giving in or giving up on your principles and your preferences, it means taking the time to look around you and see whether you are standing on someone else’s foot. To elevate one’s awareness so that a single, small space doesn’t become the only home you know, so you won’t go to absurd lengths to ostensibly protect your very own space, is an effort that can be immensely rewarding. You may find many places to call home or to provide a bit of home-ness when the need arises, and within those spaces you may find friends of all kinds. Since we already cohabit with any number of people and other species, can’t we do so with grace?