AC Grayling is a British philosopher who, if he were French, would be a public figure of some stature and possibly also a major politician. Recognising the very British lack of respect for public intellectuals who comment on current affairs and politics, he ploughs an interesting furrow on any number of contemporary matters.
He writes regularly for Prospect magazine which rests behind a pay wall, but is well worth the investment.
A recent article was on the subject of magnanimity and why this Aristotelian concept lies at the heart of good government. I borrow from the article and recommend the original.
Grayling's insights are as relevant to resolving conflict as they are to governing countries.
The word derives from the Latin magna anima which means "great heart". Already I love it, if only because it reminds me of the Arabic for "white heart", albak abyad, capturing a capacity to exercise tolerance, kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity. Specifically a bad person is one with a black heart.
It is difficult to think of any situation where conflict is present and one is seeking to avoid relying on fixed rules or procedures to resolve this conflict, where magnanimity is not required in bucketloads by all those involved.
When emotion is high or issues of principle are in play, it is of course remarkably difficult to be magnanimous when one would rather scream, shout and throw one's toys from the pram.
But a fair compromise, ignoring real or imagined difficulties wherever possible and arriving at a solution which all those involved can live with seems a much better alternative to screaming and shouting, enjoyable though this may be for a short while.
And being magnanimous needn't involve rolling over in the face of a stronger opponent or an excuse to avoid a difficult decision. Aristotle would be quick to point out there is nothing easy about resolving a dilemna, but rather this most human of tasks takes time, reason, courage and intellectual application.
From here to there, with a little Aristotle along the way.