Good lessons from assholes

Why can't we learn the lesson that cookie cutter dogma and political fidelity will rarely serve us well in identifying tyranny, then fighting it? 

Harsh criticism of people and ideologies we revere may pound the walls of our sacred, long held, but often longer-left unscrutinized, beliefs. It may leave us fuming with indignation. But knee jerk reactions should be reason enough to examine our barricaded viewpoints, confirm they can withstand the pounding, and ensure they have not gelled into a tyranny of their own.

Christopher Hitchens was a bold motherfucker. He didn’t hesitate to call it the way he saw it. Saints, heros and institutions - he took them all down, not because they held positions of esteem, but because they were unworthy of them. Nothing and no one was spared his critical tongue. Neither status nor political affiliation inoculated anyone.

He was a devout atheist. "No evidence or argument [for God] has yet been presented which would change my mind. But I like surprises." He wrote with humour and whimsy, but more importantly, with an openness to being proved wrong.

Ideologues and tyrants great or small - all fanatics be they Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Marxist, capitalist, environmentalist, veganist, holier-than-thouist – share a closed, unshakeable rigidity. They have absolute and unconditional rightness on their side.

It’s easier to hide behind belief systems and political affiliation, to take the sound bites, chants and party lines handed down by the makers of rhetoric, and hold them like shields before us, standing side by side, arms linked, responses synced, with our so called “allies”, in what we perceive to be, but often neglect to define for ourselves, as the Struggle.

Not always famous, Hitchens at some point in his career had no notoriety to cushion his audacious and offensive assertions. He couldn’t help himself.  He was the grown-up who spent a lifetime pointing a public finger, explaining the emperor had no clothes.

Others more familiar with Hitchens will eulogize the man. I just want to know where he got the balls to say the kind of things I want to say, but am afraid to.

Breaking ranks is hard. When we name unpopular truths that set us apart from our posse, we risk being vilified. So I often air my thoughts privately to a select and understanding few, then feel that I’ve betrayed myself.

Aligned with a community, as so many of us are, we inherit a set of unwritten expectations. Expect to be slammed if you breach them. I want to take a lesson from Christopher Hitchens. I want to be bolder, stand my ground, argue my positions. Sure, I may get slammed. But we are blessed in this country with the privilege of being slammed pretty much with words, humiliation or rejection. Others the world over are not so lucky.  




on the side of hitch.

i'm sure everyone can agree with at least part of his messaging - the only known cure for poverty being the empowerment of women - does relgion support this? i don't think so.


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