Free Press Journal

Like-minded people flock together!


Teenagers shopping

Dr Shrirang Bakhle says that people who have common wishes or desires always form a group

‘Birds of a feather flock together’, goes the old proverb. Humans don’t have feathers! So, what is it that makes some people come together? We can see different groups: families and extended families, housing societies, local communities, religious communities, social groups (including Whatsapp, Facebook groups) and even nations. We have seen Germany breaking into two countries – the West Germany and East Germany. And then we saw these two countries that had fought bitterly with each other, ‘flocking together’ and merging to form one Germany again!

So, what is it that brings some people together to form a group – while there are others who absolutely hate that group! And then we see organisations – political parties, religious groups and even companies – breaking to form sub-groups. What is it that makes people do all this? What is this ‘feather’ that makes people flock together? And what is it that makes people break away from each other?

People who have a common wish or desire come together. Then all the people who share that wish form a group: A social group, business group, political group or even a religion. So, we can see a huge number of social groups such groups related to sports, drama, literature, films, social causes (such as saving nature or eradicating TB) and so on. Some people, who have the ‘wish to enjoy films and talk about films’, come together. Then there are people who have the ‘wish to defeat a particular political party’ come together. People who have the ‘wish to pray to a particular god’ come together.

The wish is always a part of a ‘Belief – Wish – Emotion’ triad. These three can be considered to be the three sides of the same coin! (By the way, even a coin has three sides – if you look at the edge of the coin!) So, every wish is attached to a belief and the emotions. For example, the ‘wish to enjoy Hard Metal music’ is attached to the belief that the Hard Metal music is great! The attached emotion is the emotion of happiness – when listening to that music. There is also the attached emotion of unhappiness – when not allowed to listen to that music. (For example, teenager becoming angry or unhappy when Mom comes and switches off that music!)

The interesting point to be noted is that for most such Belief – Wish – Emotion triads (B-W-E triads), there are completely opposite B-W-E triads – that can be seen in some other people. For example, consider the ‘wish to eat non-veg food’. You can easily understand the B-W-E triad: wish to eat non-veg, belief that non-veg food is wonderful, emotion of happiness when eating non-veg. But there are people who have the completely opposite B-W-E triad: wish to avoid non-veg, the belief that eating non-veg is bad or unpleasant and the emotion of unhappiness when made to eat non-veg.

But we are humans. So, many a times, at some stage of life, these B-W-E triads can change. So, some of the people, who had the wish to eat non-veg, lose that wish and get the opposite B-W-E triad of not eating non-veg. And then, there are people who had the wish to avoid non-veg, develop the opposite wish: the wish to enjoy non-veg! Once we understand this concept of B-W-E triads and how they change, we can understand how groups are formed – and how they break into subgroups.

For example, all the major religions are formed around the ‘wish to reach to god’. But the Belief-Wish-Emotion triads related to god are different. Even in each of the religions, we can find different subgroups that have different B-W-E triads related to method of worship or prayer. The meaning of the term ‘ideology’ is actually the specific B-W-E triads present in the minds of the followers of that ideology. Although all the religions have the common wish to reach to god, the difference in the B-W-E triads leads to conflicts between religions and even between subgroups within a particular religion.

Sometimes, the differences in the subgroups of a particular organisation become too gross. Then that organization breaks up. We can see this in case of political parties or even in the case of companies. Some people leave a company together – as a group – to form another company.

One other interesting point to seen is grouping and regrouping of the same people. For example, consider a typical housing society of, say, 30 members. When different topics come up, these same 30 members form different groups – related to different wishes. For example, consider the celebration of some occasion. Suppose, 18 of these share the common ‘wish to celebrate’. So they come together and form a group. The others may form an opposing group because they have a ‘wish not to celebrate’. But suppose another topic such the question of stray dogs in the building comes up. Then, suppose, 8 may have the ‘wish to help the stray dogs’, whereas the other 22 may have the opposite ‘wish to drive the dogs away’. But this grouping may be a completely different permutation and combination – as compared to the grouping about the celebrations. Different wish – different people come together. Observe your own groups – the wishes and the B-W-E triads.