Simple answer; there's room for just about any kind of action you want to take, so long as you can justify it.
Longer answer; I think it's more about exposure than anything. Think about the first time you saw a homeless person begging for money. Now think about the one hundredth time. This might be different for everyone. For me, I grew up in a small town in the midwest, so probably the first time I encountered a homeless person was when I moved to Madison when I was 25. It was sad, and it stuck in my mind for hours afterwards. Now-a-days though, that kind of thing is just a fact of life. If I want to go downtown, I'm going to get asked for change. I hardly notice it anymore.
Now pretend you grew up in a world where like 25-30% of the people were homeless, or slept in some kind of squatters den or bar backrooom. Hell, you're homeless, and so is your Ranger buddy (wearing 4,000 sid worth of equipment). Not only that, but it's violent. Everyone's favorite past time is feeding elves to bugs the size of automobiles. On your way here you watched a blind beggar get slaughtered in the street because he, unknowingly, grabbed at the hem of a noble lady's skirt when she walked past. You also crossed an alley where a guy was being mugged by a pair of shady rinth rats. Also, human rights don't exist. There's laws against theft and murder (without paying Templars for the privilege first), but you don't have the right to educate yourself as you wish, or to think as you wish, or to question this system. You're not entitled to safety or even the freedom to choose what happens to your body in many cases. 30% of the people you pass are slaves, working for 1% of the people who are undeniably better than you in all regards.
With that in mind, would you:
- Care that someone is starving? (Hell, you're a bit hungry too.)
- Care that someone is thirsty? (Shit, when was the last time you had a full waterskin?)
- Care that someone is being treated unfairly? (You just had to pay a 200 sid fine for not bowing low enough!)
- Care that someone is being attacked? (Better get away while they're distracted, you're probably next!)
- Care that someone's loved one just died? (You can count your living loved ones on one hand, and you're even missing fingers because of a cut that got infected and required amputation!)
- Care that someone is being punished in the arena, or by whipping, or by "hugging". (Shit yeah, free entertainment!)
Yes, if the circumstances are right, you could say yes to any number of these. But your average character isn't going to be terribly moved by any of this - he sees every single one of these things
happen at least once a week. I don't think Zalanthans are incapable of kindness, they're just indifferent to suffering, which would make it hard for them to care about strangers.