This title has been thrown around quite a lot since the Haitian earthquakes and I've read and commented on some interesting takes on the subject. Now I feel it is time to express my own feelings on empathy, specifically towards natural disasters and depending how deeply I get into this I may go further.
Most people interpret the natural world from baseless perspectives and from conclusions lacking evidence or even proper understanding. This is the subjective reality in which Human kind has submitted itself to. This is fine, and I understand that some people can't grasp such turbulence or refuse to scratch under the surface.
The natural world, regardless of what some people believe has gone on before us and it will continue on... long after our species falls to extinction. Our individual subjective perspectives are not needed to make this happen. However, people press onward with such naive concepts like:
"This happened because of the plan."
"There is some purpose in this."
"This is a way of the earth thinning out humanity."
All the above statements are false, I can't stress this enough.
The earth is simply a celestial body which we happen to have been fortunate to be able to evolve on. It knows nothing of such concepts, it is not an organism, it isn't even alive. Such anthropomorphism of the planet seems a little unnecessary to me, but I see it happening so much in the news and from talking to people that it had to be mentioned.
I'll make note now that I do not think there is any form of clockmaker or deity calling the shots over head. I can't fathom this concept, or why people immediately run to it. My only attribution of why it is being said is a lack of understanding of the natural world and its processes.
When humanity inhabits most of the planet, it is statistically high that eventually we'll be caught in the crossfire of some natural reoccurring event like earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, etc... such is the way of the world. For millions of years these processes have occurred, with no regard for life. Whole species have been destroyed, and new ones have risen up, such are the natural laws.
The naive interpretations of some purpose to tragedy, of all types, should be seen as nothing more but comforting words which hold no truth. In places like the Ring of Fire it was beyond moronic to think that an earthquake of that magnitude would not occur at some point. The same can be said about those who live in denial of the active volcanoes which people decide it would be nice to live under.
Hope, prayers, and subjective reality are not enough to sway statistically probable reoccurring events. To me this is a dangerous interpretation which puts people in situations which could have been prevented by common sense.