Brother-love need not get in the way of the “public interest” in China. An angry passer-by pushed a would-be jumper off a bridge after he held up traffic for five hours. The pusher’s reason – the jumper was “selfish” and his action “violate[d] a lot of public interests.” Notice the initial false gesture of helping the jumper:
Retired soldier Lian Jiansheng, 66, broke through a police cordon and reached out to shake the hand of would-be jumper Chen Fuchao before shoving him off the bridge.
“I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interests,” Lai was quoted as saying by the China Daily newspaper.
This is just one small example where the morality of altruism – living for the sake of others, or the “collective” – gives the excuse to any thug to kill, pummel or push another’s life. When a perpetrator loudly proclaims that the victim was “selfish,” he is projecting his own motivations of cynical egoism, or range-of-the-moment gratification, onto the victim. This thug was eager to prove that his actions were moral and his victim’s weren’t.
Under altruism, brother-love does not apply to the individual – only to the greater good. Individuals are expendable, and thugs are justifiable.
In contrast, a couple weeks ago on my side of town in Michigan, a would-be jumper on a pedestrian bridge closed a freeway for over eight hours. It was reported that he had lost his job. Dozens of people gathered around to offer encouragement and finally talked him down without incident. Benevolence and compassion are based in the minds of people who understand that they, themselves, are individuals and that individuals are more important than the collective “good.” Rational self-interest is the only moral code that keeps the thugs at bay, is conducive to compassion and allows for human beings to flourish.