While I did not know Christopher Hitchens, nor had I ever met him or seen any of his debates (although I wanted to), I admit that when I found out this morning that he died last night, I was saddened by the news.
Most, especially himself, knew this day was coming, and coming soon at that. It was just last Friday, in fact, that I read his latest piece in Vanity Fair called “Trial of the Will,” in which he challenged the Friedrich Nietzsche notion of “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It’s a nice piece in terms of philosophy, but in human terms, as he describes his fight against the esophageal cancer that ultimate took his life last night, it’s a painful read.
I’m still working on finishing his book “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” which not only showcases very reasoned arguments against religion and dogma, but also showcases his wit, intellect and eloquent writing style.
I didn’t always agree with him, but when it came to issues such as the dangers that religion has been shown to bring on societies, the defense of “Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie against a fatwa issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and free speech in general, I thought he was brilliantly spot on.
While he may not be around anymore, his writings are, and I would say the issues he wrote about are still as relevant today as they were while he was alive.