My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn't believe no one else closer to person got up. While standing she realized that a bunch of really young recent grads had actually been sitting on the seats actually reserved for people who really needed them.
Are we so completely unwilling to give up even the smallest bit of comfort to help someone that needs it so much more? A few weeks ago she told me about a friend of hers who was eight months pregnant and not offered a seat in a bus.
Humans are a mess, and capable of incredible thoughtlessness, lack of compassion and evil - look around the world and you'll still find enough of the big stuff in the supposedly more civilized world we live in today - massacres, killings, treachery and general willingness to let people suffer.
But there's so much in the small stuff - the everyday living as well.
A lack of humanity is contagious - most people like to follow. If most people see everyone acting around them in a certain way, they're likely to act the same way. The same applies to kindness and compassion though.
My general take is that there's enough good, kindness and compassion to balance out the lack of it.
But there are some days when I'm reminded that there may not be.