The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.

In teaching young people, I have often had occasion to try and encourage this sort of behavior. I have never quoted this line but I think I might next time I’m engaged in this conversation.

In the past, I’ve taught scads of children the word “magnanimous.” I do this when they are inevitably injured by some other kid’s injustice and are determined to make everyone understand who the wronged party is. This is when I pull out “magnanimous” because the only way to get past check and balance, eye for an eye, social situations is for someone to choose to be magnanimous, to rise above the perceived wrong done to him and be the better person.

Sometimes students understand this and can really get behind the practice of magnanimity. But sometimes they need a little more convincing. That’s when I might pull out this line.

And truthfully, I’d love to live in a world where more people practiced being magnanimous. Sure, it can create a feeling of being a LITTLE bit too righteous, being a LITTLE bit more deserving than everyone else. But I’d take it over the sulky alternative.
And truthfully, I could probably afford to take a little of my own magnanimous medicine.


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