A few minutes ago, I looked down at my fingers, and I saw the scars on my left middle and ring fingers from a pretty jarring (and more than a little embarrassing) fall I took on the front entrance to Butler High School back in December.
And my mind drifted to this question: are human beings instinctively empathetic, or is empathy learned?
From what I remember when I fell in front of Butler High School -
- A lot of high school kids saw a middle-aged woman take an enormous face plant onto the pavement.
- Of all those kids, the majority of them actively turned in my direction, did not laugh, and genuinely showed concern for my well-being, with a few of them coming over to me to make sure I was OK.
- A few of them passively continued doing what they were doing - which could also have been a form of empathy - they could have seen I was embarrassed, afforded me the social equivalent of privacy.
- Of all the kids who witnessed the incident, I don’t remember seeing anyone laugh.
This makes me think empathy is a base instinct BEFORE it becomes an evolving, more sophisticated learned behavior.