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Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Blog, Book Reviews | 0 comments

Remembering Christopher Hitchens on this Anniversary of His Death

 

christopher-hitchens

 

Even after death, Hitchens remains a force of intellect worth re-visiting from time to time, and not just by those who shared many of his views.

 

Christopher Hitchens died two years ago today.

His life spanned 62 immensely productive years.  One presumes his words and ideas shall endure considerably longer.

Indeed, as prolific Hichens was, both as a writer and lecturer, his most valuable gift was not in telling us what we should think.  Rather, it seemed his real purpose was inspiring us to think, and more important — to grow.

I think far too many people adopt a certain philosophy that seems satisfying and then blindly stick with it.  We insulate ourselves from dissenting viewpoints by surrounding ourselves with people who might as well be clones.  We read the same newspapers and visit the same websites.  We watch one cable news channel or the other.  In short, many of us fail to challenge the assumptions of what we know and believe.

But philosophy isn’t an end game.  It’s a perpetual pursuit.

The duration of Hitchens’ adult life embodied the notion that awareness comes not from biology nor birthright, but rather from evolution.  Indeed, we evolve into who and what were are, and what we believe.  Of course, some people change more noticeably than others during their lives.  And some hardly change their belief systems at all.  But Hitchens was very different, especially as he became a public figure and his notoriety increased.  He wasn’t afraid to share his beliefs, even when there were doubts and insecurities.  He wasn’t too proud to change his mind later when the preponderance of evidence warranted taking a different position on an issue.

I think we need more of that.  A lot more.  Sadly, society views changes of opinion and intellectual evolution — not as a virtue as it should be — but a character flaw.  Look at those running for public office who sway from their political base, or change their minds on an important issue.  Coming to a different position later is almost always held against them.

Consider what was arguably Hitchens’ most divisive position, his support of two long wars — in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Hard to imagine the former self-described Socialist who doesn’t believe in God and thought George W. Bush was an idiot actually turned out to be one of the war’s strongest hawks.  Hitchens didn’t care that his defense of war outraged his pals in Leftist circles.  Whatever your position, you have to admire a man who doesn’t take his marching orders out of the usual playbook.  Indeed, Hitchens had no playbook, other than a directional arrow to expand his knowledge and try and learn as much as possible.

My tribute to Hitchens is that I would be more like him, or at least as honest.  Not necessarily in thought.  But in a relentless pursuit to learn and know more, and hopefully to understand what it all means.

READ: Staring Death in the Eye and Not Blinking

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