Just in case you are confused about what empathy and altruism actually are. I will expand on this topic soon, because apparently there really is widespread confusion of egoistic intentions for a shared goal with the goal itself as intention. (UPDATE: https://dowlphinblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/alliance-of-convenience-vs-working-together-for-the-result/)
Thus, first, an anecdote about empathy and doing the right thing.
I used to work for a year or so in the IT department of a non-IT company. It was a crappy job. Way too much to do, so stuff had to be left undone, or done in a way that defeated the intention of saving money that caused the whole massive work load.
When my contract was about to expire and my successor arrived (likely selected because he has family and can more easily be pressured and exploited due to that), I wanted to make sure that he gets proper instruction on how to do the daily business. I had worked out some basic procedures and documentation to get some order into the mess and speed up paperwork.
Naturally, he, although an extra during the transition phase, was quite busy, too. But I had to keep mentioning that we still need to do the briefing on how to do those things. I was not instructed to do it; The boss wouldn’t even have cared or known. I could have just said: I’m outta here soon, see you, suckers. That would have been the easy way for me. Why should I care about them if I never see them again?
But I did care. Imagining how my successor, a good-spirited man, would have to handle the same mess that I did; it pained me. So I actively pushed and urged him several times, and eventually I said: Now or never. Come, look, we’re doing this now.
He commended and thanked me for caring so much. I said it’s the right thing to do. He said he had experienced very different things with people before.
Yeah, I have, too. Plenty. But I am not like those people. I cannot. Better be sickened by them than be sickened by myself.
Those other people choose the fool’s way, the easy one: They are being egoists and convince themselves they are not. And then you have to keep figuring out whether someone you meet is for real or playing pretend. (Finding that out is beginning to become second nature to me.)