“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.”

This is one definition of magnanimity.  Aristotle called it the highest of virtues; and while it may be difficult to fully articulate all of its qualities, we all recognize a magnanimous soul when we cross one.

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sa...
Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio, 1509, showing Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had this post sitting in my blog queue for over a month.  I know what I want to say, but it’s been difficult to pull the words together in a meaningful way.

I believe that magnanimity is a quality that those who follow religions of peace should strive to achieve.  To me, there are few things uglier than pettiness and the inability to be held accountable for one’s actions and words.

Myths and legends from many corners of the world show that honour and valour are among the essential qualities of a hero.  Even today, media campaigns call to these age-old noble characteristics when seeking everything from support of a political candidate to military enrolment.

Magnanimity, I think, creates a different kind of hero.  Not necessarily a warrior or soldier who will be remembered in song and story after their passing, but a human being who inspires us to live our own lives better.

The magnanimous are not infected by aggression or blind ambition.  They see the broader picture of life.  They see beyond the rat races and social bubbles in which the rest of us so often find ourselves.

There are moments in life when the blinders we wear are forcibly lifted, and we can all see the world as the magnanimous do.  When death takes one close to us.  When we bear children.  When we are very ill.  Whenever we are brushed with our own mortality, we see the world in a new light.

Jobs and schedules lose their power over our lives.  Long held grudges lose their significance.  All the little things move aside to let us see what really is important – be it your family, your friends, your spirituality, your art or what-have-you.

This is the frame of mind that the autumn and winter holidays instil in me.  All those clichés of goodwill and peace seem so much more plausible in the quiet of the year.  I think it harkens back to when winter itself was a brush of mortality.

It is in this frame of mind that we create magic – transcendent magic.  The sort of magic that aligns our minds and hearts with the divine that is imminent in our world.

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