January 9th, 2017
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
In 2007, construction worker Wesley Autrey was waiting for a subway train in New York, when a man close by had a seizure and fell onto the track. Within an instant — and without thought of his own safety — Autrey jumped down in an attempt to save the man. However, he immediately realized the train was approaching too fast and was unable to lift him to safety. So instead, he laid on top of the man and pushed him down into the drainage ditch between the tracks. While the train operator saw what was happening, he was unable to stop in time — and five cars passed over them. Incredibly, both survived and were uninjured. When asked later why he did it, Autrey told The New York Times: ‘I just saw someone who needed help. I did what I felt was right.”
In an age where Darwin’s ‘survival of the fittest’ philosophy reigns supreme, altruism appears to be overrun on a daily basis by competition, selfishness and narcissism. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, after all. Here in America, this seems particularly true. But science is shattering the myth that humans are naturally designed to be selfish and competitive. Rather, we’re actually wired to be prosocial and helpful. Wesley Autrey is a perfect example. As are young children before societal conditioning kicks in. And now science has found that altruistic behavior makes us more desirable to the opposite sex too.
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