Behold the Good Samaritan: Empathy, Sympathy, and Kindness – the real saviors of mankind?

Well, last week I considered if we’re all doomed to die out because of an us or them mentality, which is pretty depressing. So, this week I thought, what if there’s a way we can save ourselves, or perhaps the Good Samaritan can save us all?

I would like to think that there’s goodness – even a tiny granule of it – in pretty much everyone (if you don’t, the world tends to become a pretty dark and gloomy place). And child psychologists and parents have seen that children have to learn and develop empathy. BUT that once they do, children (so humans) start out basically good. That is, they don’t have an intent to hurt another, but simply don’t understand the impact of their actions. Likewise, they can want to be kind and share with others. And fortunately for us all, this kindness seems to last into adulthood for at least a portion of the human race. You know, the guy who stops because you have a flat, or offers the change when you’re frantically digging for that last dime at the store.

The thing is, now-a-days we’re told not to stop and help others because who knows? That broken car? It might actually be a decoy to dupe you into stopping so they can steal your car, and murder you by the side of the road (or whatever other horrible things are supposed to happen). Or if you perform first-aid – even if you save someone’s life as a doctor – you stand a good chance of being sued. Thus, that sort of thing enters your head when you see someone who needs help. That is, what if by doing something to help someone else, it ends up causing me pain?

Sounds awful, I know, and it is. The positive side to this? There are still people who will stop anyway. People who find the courage – or perhaps just ignore – all those fearful stories, and

Henriette Browne Mutter Kind, source Wikimedia license Public Domain (?),from acobox.com

help anyway. And we hear about them sometimes on the news, especially if they did something exceptionally wonderful, like chased down a child-molester or something, but often we don’t hear about them, and they continue to do nice things out there anyway.

Come the apocalypse, we need more people like this. And if humans are really to succeed, I think we all need to BECOME people like this. Sure, we might not have much food, so if we stop and help the guy laying beside the road who’s hungry and not quite dead, he might attack us, he might steal our food. But what if he’s the doctor who can join our commune and save us all from disease, and all we have to do is give him food so he doesn’t die first? What if he’s your husband, your brother, your father, and he’s on the way back to see you, to rescue you all, and all he needs is that small amount of help to keep going, to save his family?

I think in modern times we often have the tendency to think of other folks as, well, “other,” or not us, not like us. Especially on the road, when you see another car, it’s that jeep that’s driving like an idiot, or the Honda who drives like a snail. But what about the people inside? What about the mother driving her baby to the first doctor’s appointment? Could it be your wife? Your sister? You?

Perhaps if we find the courage to be everyday heroes, to be Good Samaritans, and to see other people less like others and more like us, we all have a good chance of survival in a post-apocalyptic world. After all, “we” all want to survive, and if “we” work together, why wouldn’t we?

What do you think? Is this a better chance than falling prey to the us or them mentality?

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One thought on “Behold the Good Samaritan: Empathy, Sympathy, and Kindness – the real saviors of mankind?

  1. well anthropologists would say it is evolution which has given us this empathy – do good now in hopes of good coming our way later – I beleive all the primates and many other mammels share the characteristics – they also say that the human is happiest in small groups when we know everyone I think 150 is the most comfortable – we seem to be able to project our empathy large scale – emergency appeals spring to mind, but I think the mechanisim is the same, to help because who knows when we might not need it In a apocolyptic senario it would make sense for survivors to band together for strength and to help because, even more so then, who would know when they would need it back. It sounds hard and selfish and I don’t mean to downplay the good. WE are good as a whole but I do beleive it’s in our nature – sometimes someting goes wrong and we end up with the men in black hats but that doesnt change our basic nature – yes I think we would turn out to be alright guys when push comes to shove.

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