Human beings, like all other animals, are born with instincts. Most everything you do is done, actually, for you. Even your thoughts as you read this sentence are automatic, and not fully “controlled” by some sort of choice you have. Breathing, digesting, even balance and cognition, are all things that our autonomic system does for us.
Do you find you can generate thoughts, or do you suddenly realize, (in awareness) “Oh there is a thought.” Most of us experience the latter, more than thought generation.
We can at times, have some awareness of what we are doing, but at no time would we be able to keep track of the millions of natural occurrences our bodies perform.
That said, the title of this article is misleading. There is nothing that exists which is not affected by both what is happening around it, and what is happening within it.
Yet, if we must choose what determines reactions in situations, it only makes sense to say nature, as nature fully encompasses all of the environment and the inner genetic code with which all organisms are born, assures that nature determines how we react.
Let us examine some situations to which we react. You enter a crowded classroom, and see there is an empty desk in the third row. You are somewhat tardy, but still before the bell. How do you react? You most likely find yourself moving toward the empty seat.
All the while you are adjusting to the dimmer light than outdoors, you are digesting your lunch, you are reading what is written on the chalk board, you are noticing the guy you think you recognize meeting last week, you are wondering if your clothes are wrinkled, you are trying not to trip over a pile of notebooks by the desk, and so on.
Everything you do, is automatic, or near so.
Another more dramatic situation could be outlined the same way. You are standing in line at a bank when the guy behind you suddenly pulls out a pistol and rushes the counter.
You are probably already down on the floor before he finishes shouting “Nobody move! Everybody down!” There is a lady in front of you holding a baby and you automatically reach for her bottle rolling your way, when the child begins to scream. You know by instinct, not in depth analysis, to keep a calmer atmosphere so no one gets shot.
While the robber is distracted you wave frantically to a passing security guard, but you are careful not to be seen doing this. Do you stop and do a critical thinking, and consequence computation, when you suddenly see the guard outside the window? Probably not. You wave, even if you are not certain whether he is just the ice cream man in a street uniform, or a cop.
Let us examine an on-going situation. You are beginning to suspect your husband is cheating on you. For the first month of a co-workers arrival, he talked about her constantly. Now he doesn’t mention her at all. He is working late every day, and going to “conference calls” every weekend. The phone calls come in and if you answer someone hangs up. You notice he is working out, dressing nicer, wearing cologne, and he has cleaned his car, which used to be a rolling garbage cart. He has lipstick on his clothes, and you find condoms in his pants pockets. He acts weird. He is defensive and cranky half the time, and the other half, he brings you gifts and flowers as if he feels guilty. How do you react?
Even though you do control your behaviors, you find your thoughts are racing at times. You angrily slam down the phone when a female voice says your husband’s name then clicks off when you say “Who is this?” You are awakened in the middle of the night from nightmares, and find yourself mulling and brooding over what to do? Do you confront him? Follow him? Forgive him? Murder him? Divorce him? You do have some control over the situation, but you are very, very upset. You are not thinking clearly. The anger and despair are natural. The brooding and insomnia are natural. The sense of betrayal is natural. The very fact that men are known to be serial monogamists is natural. That women tend to be lifetime monogamists is natural.
Nature, one could argue plays a much bigger role then the environment. It may not be prompting your every reaction, but it is at the very least, prompting your visceral reactions, and guiding your emotions toward problem solving thoughts, even if those thoughts are murderous, counter productive, or revenge fantasy centered.
If you are an extremely rational being, you may have no such feelings. You may have the calm and collected ability to stay centered and survive this with little or no trauma and drama. If so, your reaction could be said to be “nurtured”, but it is certainly rare in humankind, and some would argue hardly nurturing at all, since only a Vulcan or a robot can be so disengaged they care nothing about losing the love of their life.
To summarize, we are complex organisms that are affected by environment from the moment of conception in a womb that determines whether we become male or female. We are born into a world that will signal to our genetic code, just when and if, a bodily set of reactions will be triggered, such as exposure to sunlight producing melanin, inheriting traits that either strive or thrive in certain environments, and having complex neuronal networks that control us at least as much as we control them.
We all our human, and human beings are BE-ING, not analyzing, thinking deeply about every decision, or even realizing what we are doing most of the time. Nature drivels evolution through the environment, and we evolved like every living thing.