Something happened on my train carriage coming into work this morning which set me thinking.
The carriage was crowded as you would expect for the morning peak when a young Asian woman, probably in her early twenties, cried out in some distress and collapsed. Somebody pushed the alarm button and the train stopped at Croxton station.
Passengers carried her semi-conscious onto the platform and put her in the recovery position, while the train driver called an ambulance. I took my overcoat off so she could use it as a pillow but somebody else placed their handbag under the young woman’s head. Somebody offered her their water bottle; somebody checked her pulse while another held her hand until the ambulance came.
The question is, why did we do all these things for a complete stranger? The ambulance was on its way, we could have, in all conscience, left her on the platform yet we all understood such a thing would be unthinkable.
It was an ordinary train carriage; old, young, middle aged, blue collar, white collar passengers. Would we have behaved any differently if we lived in a society where death and disease were common? Or is the principle of empathy universal in all human societies?
And then you read something like this.
It’s got me buggered.