Famous people die every day and I most certainly don’t write about them here, but the passing of Christopher Hitchens is one that touches me, very deeply, as in recent years more than anybody he has provided the insights and perhaps the standard to which I wish to aspire as an atheist and I suppose as a human being.
Yes, Christopher had his faults, don’t we all, but Christopher would have been the first to embrace that truth safe in the knowledge that his faults weren’t hurting anybody else so were his to be indulged upon.
Vanity Fair described Hitchens as “the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant” – glowing words which barely scratch the surface of a man who’s wit, and dare I say, deadpan sarcasm were so sharp as to have the term “Hitchslap” used to refer to those moments when debating opponents invariably fell to his seemingly limitless knowledge and ability to nonchalantly admonish you.
With the passing of Christopher Hitchens the world has lost one of it’s shining lights. The Atheist community has lost a great leader in the man who described himself not as an atheist, but an anti-theist.
Hitches wouldn’t find anything wrong in the timing of his passing. He worked tirelessly to the end even though he had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010. Yet, while his pasisng touches many of us profoundly, I’m sure than Christopher would have looked at it as simply having no more Gin for the Campari.
Tonight I shall raise a glass to Christopher Hitchens as I’m confident he would want us to celebrate his passing rather than to mourn, and I shall leave you with this quote which has been most instructional and shaping for and of me:
“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”