As far as I can tell, I don't actually know anybody who is currently in Japan - so my first reaction isn't grief. And I can only sort of barely wrap my head around the video footage; I can't really encompass the scale of the disaster - so I can't get to shock, either. Emotionally, I can't feel it as a tragedy.
And yet, I know the tragedy is there. The reports show a large and rising death toll, and no shortage of injuries to accompany those deaths. Property damage is... I don't even know how to express it. I can see the videos, read the reports, try to grasp what happened.
But since it doesn't (for the moment) affect me directly, I can ignore it. I can think, Wow, look at all those cars getting washed around. I wonder what's for lunch? Except I don't. Not because I really feel for what happened, or the people it happened to - I don't seem to be able to do that, at least not yet - but because knowing what it is, I refuse to let it go like that. So I'll be donating to the Red Cross, and I'll be checking to see if I'm eligible to donate blood again any time soon.
Empathy is a habit that should be cultivated, even in places where it doesn't come naturally.