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When it is difficult to be magnanimous

Jeff Odhiambo Obonyo in the library

Most of us will agree that whenever we think that we are practising magnanimity by doing something for another person, we are always doing the following: seeking attention, offering ourselves to the service of others in the hope of getting a reward, seeking acceptance from peers, paying back a favor that was once done to us, showing other people that we can be reliable (even when we are not) or trying to cover up for past bad behaviour. One may ask, What is Magnanimity? A question such as this takes me back to my Principles of Ethics class where we learnt that Magnanimous is derived from Latin magnus “great” and anima “soul.” This therefore describes one’s state of being when he is generous and always wants the best for the other person.

Sometimes we are hard on ourselves because there is a force that hinders us from being magnanimous. We give freely or offer ourselves to the service of others whenever we feel content within ourselves. We tend to cling to the belief that we can only be generous if we have enough to give to others or we have what we need. Is it because we are innately selfish and greedy? Or can we make it part of our nature to think about the needs of others? Because considering ourselves more makes generosity difficult.

We often feel empty and exhausted whenever we try to be generous so we stop and ask ourselves, “what is in it for me?” It may be money, aid, attention, encouragement, time, possessions and more. Expecting rewards when we offer to take up a task or an offer impedes magnanimity in us. The virtue involves giving not just anything but rather the things that are good for others. It should be purposefully put into practice to foster the wellbeing of others.

Besides the fact that human persons have selfish tendencies, they also own the natural capacity to be magnanimous.


This article was written by Jeff Odhiambo Obonyo

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