Monday, January 8, 2007

An everyman indeed: The Times follows up today on Wesley Autrey, the man who leapt onto the subway tracks to save a man's life. They want to know, could any of us do the same thing? Would we? The answer, it seems to be, is... probably:

People wondered, because they had asked themselves, “Could I have done what he did?” and very often the answer was no. Mr. Autrey, 50, a construction worker and Navy veteran, leapt in front of a train to rescue a stranger who had suffered a seizure and fallen onto the tracks. He covered the stranger’s body with his own as the train passed overhead. Both men lived.

Mr. Autrey, who left two young daughters on the platform when he jumped, later chalked up his actions to a simple compulsion to help another in distress.

But is there something in Mr. Autrey that the rest of us lack? Probably not, experts say. Except for sociopaths, humans are built to feel and act out of empathy, said Stephen G. Post, a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University’s medical school and co-author of “Why Good Things Happen to Good People,” scheduled to be published in May. Social support has always been important to survival, and people with strong social networks thrive more than those who are isolated.


1 comment:

Phil said...

(Blogger STILL doesn't do trackbacks? Sheesh.)

The Times and bioethicists worldwide can say what they wish - I still don't think I could throw myself in front of a train for any human being. Maybe for my family or loved ones, sure, but for a complete stranger? I hate to say it but I'm kind of selfish when it comes to staying alive.