Compassion isn't altogether Altruistic.
Compassion is a gene's way of helping itself. If someone helps a close relative, it's a way of strengthening and protecting the survival of the gene pool.
Similarly, when a friend has something go wrong, you feel terrible. However, when it's a complete stranger; you can live with it.
Compassion is interesting because people reserve the right to use it when they want to. Sometimes we help others and other times we turn and walk the other way. People feel good for helping others, and we feel guilty when we don't.
When you see a beggar coming toward you and you're not going to give them money, you're also likely not going to make eye contact.
In her powerful TedTalk, Joan Halifax suggests that compassion is such that it allows us to look like we are supportive and helping others. Here, it's important to many people that our compassion is recognized and it's painful to be noticed ignoring a plea for help.
To depry someone who is needing help is like breaking an unwritten bond, where someone won't assist you, if you need it in the future.
In other words, you are designed to convince yourself that you're compassionate.
Through compassion we transcend ourselves. Yet, most people don't want to be compassionate; they want to be right.
Halifax also suggests people can become addicted to loathing the bad qualities in others.
We say bad things about others and get a buzz of pleasure. Like the first sip of wine after a week of no drinking. She suggests you wean yourself away from our grudges and hatred.
It's not a big war that will change humanity, but simple acts of compassion and being nice.