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11th Mar, 2022

“Another trait, which is very important to succeed is to be Magnanimous.

For me, magnanimity is to be generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness: to be magnanimous toward one’s enemies.

Wikipedia defines it as ‘the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes.’

You may ask, ‘What does magnanimity look like applied to daily life?’

Well, magnanimity is resisting the urge to take offense from other people’s words or actions or not having to launch an emotional reaction to every perceived action or inaction or letting people go more easily than they thought you could.

The greatest temptation of life is to react immediately to stimuli.

This is Nietzsche’s definition of the slave mentality: to be reactive, constantly responding to what other people say and do.

Magnanimity asks us to do otherwise. It asks us not to engage others on the immediate linguistic or emotional terms. And then, rather than jockeying for position, magnanimity asks one more thing, that we be generous.

To be magnanimous is to honour the other’s state of being.

We’ve all had this experience of a parent, child, sibling, friend, spouse screaming at us out of frustration, anxiety, even well- deserved anger. We can, and often do reply in kind. They yell; we yell.

But magnanimity replies otherwise: it lets it all happen, lets the other person be, lets the other person express, feel, live while we only bear witness.

Son, You need to be Magnanimous in life, in order to move ahead and not let the actions of others shackle you in your pursuits and to maintain your peace of mind.”

(An Excerpt from my Book, ‘Dear Son….Life Lessons from a Father)

Searching for evidence of magnanimity in more recent times, I came across one name again and again: Abraham Lincoln.

During his lifetime and after his assassination, Lincoln was lauded for his magnanimity.

Some of the most poignant plaudits came from Lincoln’s own would-be enemies. William Seward, originally a political rival and later Lincoln’s secretary of State, called Lincoln’s magnanimity “almost superhuman.”

The president’s relationship with another rival, Edwin Stanton, also stands out. An attorney general for the administration before Lincoln’s, Stanton had earlier hurt Lincoln’s law career by barring him from taking part in an important trial. Stanton even had a well-known habit of insulting Lincoln, calling him a “damned long-armed Ape,” and “the original gorilla.”

Nevertheless, Lincoln picked Stanton as his Secretary of War because he believed Stanton was the best person for the job. It was, according to one Lincoln biographer, “one of the most magnanimous acts of a remarkably magnanimous president.”

We might expect that war, and in particular civil war, would stretch magnanimity to its breaking point. But the opposite seems to have been true for Lincoln. He could not put his ego before the needs of a riven country. The stakes were simply too high. “I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing,” he wrote in 1862.

We may say that desperate times call for desperate measures, but for Lincoln they called forth magnanimity.

Be generous, Be Magnanimous and Stay Blessed forever.