Personally, I have stopped categorizing or judging people based on their supposedly conscious convictions, what they themselves think they believe in. From experience, I can say that good people and bad people exist in any group of people, whether the grouping is based on their ideas, ie Objectivists, Christians, Hindus, or on economic status, ie rich or poor, or geographically.
I am tempted to say that almost no one, at least I haven’t yet come across anyone, who is fully integrated and can trace the path of all his abstract ideas to reality and vice-versa (except for Ayn Rand, I could say…). Hence, from what I have seen that it is a common prevalence that well-meaning, earnest people often hold ideas which are irrational, as they themselves are not integrated enough, for one reason or another.
Based on their actions and their sense-of-life, we can divide people roughly into two categories, ones who are more on the producer side and ones who are more on the parasitical side. Ones who do not want the unearned, spiritually or materially, and those who use others, either to gain material value or spiritual value. Of course, degrees differ from individual to individual, and so would the intensity of your friendship/aversion towards them.
What I mainly rely is on a sense-of-life or subconscious level affinity…if you can click with a person, it is his actualized values and ideas that matter, what kind of a person he is at his subconscious level.
One of the key I have found to easily relate with people is this: Most people get put off by a person who has a need to derive self-esteem out of them, be it an Objectivist or a religious person or any other…that kind of a person is out to get ‘something’ out of others, although it is a spiritual thing (self-esteem in this context). To the degree a person has this need, to that degree he, mostly unknowingly ‘asserts himself’ and irritates others. And most people do this without even realizing this: Consciously they think that they are really not concerned what others think about them, yet in their attitude, tone, mannerism, airs, it comes out —their need to show their superiority or smartness…
Some I have seen flaunt the expensive/fashionable products they possess (which they didn’t create, and never mind how they made the money to buy them), etc….some flaunt the ideas they got by reading some thinkers (ideas which are not theirs) and use that knowledge to derive their self-worth, by putting others down ( specificially those who haven’t read the same thinker) and establishing their superiority. In fact, I have come to believe that most people, including the good ones, in varying degrees and vis-a-vis different issues, suffer from this, including me.
The ideal, I tell myself, would be, if I can reach the stage, where I can be emotionally peacefully, even if the whole world lived and died thinking that I was a fool, or a nut. Imagine Howard Roark in the quarry, peacefully drilling away without concern that the whole world might live and die thinking that he was a worthless labourer, a fool and none better…(the only pain he experiences is from the fact that he cannot do what he loves, ie build, not from the fact about what others may or may not think about him).
If I reached that stage, then I would find it so easy to be the real ‘me’, to be myself in any situation ‘walk amongst kings and beggars, and still be the same (as Kipling says in ‘If’). I wouldn’t find the need to put on an act in any form…