24 May 2009

Empathy doesn't always increase with age

I had this intuitive sense that people become more empathetic as they get older. Apparently, that was just wishful thinking on my part.

Consider this guy, who at 66 pushes a potential suicide off a bridge because he is fed up with blocked traffic.

BEIJING — Chen Fuchao, a man heavily in debt, had been contemplating suicide on a bridge in southern China for hours when a passer-by came up, shook his hand _ and pushed him off the ledge.

Chen fell 26 feet (8 meters) onto a partially inflated emergency air cushion laid out by authorities and survived, suffering spine and elbow injuries, the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday.

The passer-by, 66-year-old Lai Jiansheng, had been fed up with what he called Chen's "selfish activity," Xinhua said. Traffic around the Haizhu bridge in the city of Guangzhou had been backed up for five hours and police had cordoned off the area.

"I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest," Lai was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals."

Holy shit.

I guess it is only me who find myself much more tolerant of alternative opinions, human frailty, and personal foibles as I get older. Maybe it's because I would hope that others are more tolerant of mine.

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