Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011

Our lives are the sum of experiences: personal and vicarious. Our existence is a complex pastiche of memories and achievements; a beautiful portrait guided by the hands of our parents, our teachers, mentors and strangely enough, by our arch nemeses too. However, we always learn and seek wisdom and inspiration from those we have never met; or are desperate to meet. Perhaps they have answered a burning question we’ve had since as long as we can remember; or have put effortlessly into words that which always remained a foggy,mercurial Will’o-the-Wisp in our heads or simply confirmed in writing what we’ve felt all along and too afraid to say.
That individual to me was Christopher Hitchens and he passed away today from complications of oesophageal cancer. A brave journalist; his reporting has touched upon subjects who in conventional media have held a lofty reserve of immunity. One such individual to face the journalist’s camera was “Mother” Teresa. An brilliant investigation led by Hitchens as showcased by uploaders on Youtube, it shows the pathetic conditions inside the houses of supposed healing at Calcutta. The elderly and the infirm were brought there to be paraded to outsiders; the latter witnessing the merciful nuns bringing solace and comfort in the former’s grim last days. But Hitchens blew that illusion to hell and revealed the healing houses were really Teresa’s warped theological interpretation: God’s love had to be earned by suffering.                                          

“I personally want to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive, and to be there to look it in the eye and be doing something when it comes for me.”               - Christopher Hitchens.
Hitchens was also an antitheist and one of the Four Horsemen of the New Atheism movement- a movement rooted in the conviction that religion is detrimental to the progression of rational thought and that everyone deserved a chance to look objectively at evidence and learn for themselves the wonders of science instead of being blindly herded with the rest of the flock. Hitchens had many a lively debate regarding the evils of organized religion and debated many apologetics including Dinesh D’Souza and even the odd politician (Tony Blair) at the Munk Debate. He compared Heaven to the dictatorial regime of North Korea: where everyone must sing praise and hail a holy father figure for all eternity without daring to complain.
“Hitch” as he was called by his friends and admirers, was a walking compendium. His library at home is covered from wall to wall with books ranging from American history, classics and religious texts (the better to debate apologetics with). He was a great admirer of George Orwell and any fan of Hitchens can see Animal' Farm’s and 1984’s influence in many of his essays. Hitchens was a masterful orator, an extremely learned and skilled writer and his razor sharp wry British wit charmed his friends and stunned his opponents. His death is a severe blow to most of us, but surely his peerless legacy is preserved and immortalized in every printed word and in every word he has uttered. It may seem to be the night’s darkest hour, but we must take solace in the fact that his legacy will help inspire millions to pick up their pens, question their Gods and ultimately emerge into the daylight of clarity.
Thank you Hitch, for everything.

1 comment:

Hemant said...

Well said! That you for that tribute.