One of my favorite writers is the late Richard Weaver, author of many books on Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Culture. One thing Weaver taught again and again, both in his books and in his classes at the University of Chicago is that language is the essence of being human. If you don’t believe it, try thinking, and using reason or logic without using words. Language is symbolic and it uses symbols to portray essences or ultimate truths.
One such word which conveys a powerful truth is magnanimity, which means greatness of soul. I ran into an old acquaintance the other day, a country fella I hadn’t seen in a while. I asked him what he was doing in his retired years. He answered that he was spending time with his wife, and visiting and helping people who were dying in Hospice, helping them bathe and go outside and get out of bed (he’s a pretty strong person who could pick up another man).
It hit me as I thought about the pettiness, shallowness, and banality of postmodern life and how we get caught up in meaningless things. Meanwhile, there are people like this country fella out there demonstrating magnanimity, greatness of soul, by being a Good Samaritan to other human beings, even to ones he doesn’t know. That’s inspiring.
Language is life. We think and act and live through language. Using the correct language and defining things correctly is how we become the most human we can be and live up to our destinies. This man and many people like him have magnanimity of soul and I think when we see excellence, we should recognize it as such.
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