Lately I’ve been reading the word “empathy” used where I believe the term “compassion” would apply. Here are the definitions in my dictionary (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, fourth edition.)
Empathy: identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.
Pity: sympathy and sorrow aroused by the misfortune or suffering of another.
Compassion: deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it
According to these definitions, I could emphasize with Karl Rove’s need to funnel millions of dollars into the electoral process in order to grab power for the ultra-right. After all, he is Machiavellian. It’s the nature of the beast, and I can understand his motives by pretending to stand where he stands. He wants power. The things he does are designed to fill that need. That doesn’t mean his situation arouses in me either a sense of pity or compassion, and I certainly don’t feel compelled to relieve his suffering.