As this notorious devil of reason and controversy starts chemotherapy, he rejects any notion of mercy from an omnipotent being. It’s fascinating to watch such a well-spoken atheist experience the discomfort of mortality. It’s even more inspiring to hear him stick to his guns. There are no atheists in the trenches they say, but what about the hospital wards? In this Vanity Fair piece he describes the experience as only he can.
I am badly oppressed by a gnawing sense of waste. I had real plans for my next decade and felt I’d worked hard enough to earn it. Will I really not live to see my children married? To watch the World Trade Center rise again? To read—if not indeed write—the obituaries of elderly villains like Henry Kissinger and Joseph Ratzinger? But I understand this sort of non-thinking for what it is: sentimentality and self-pity.
And as usual he sums it up plainly:
To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?
Is it courage to face death without relying on a divine escape route? Is it brave to acknowledge that one cannot simply move onto another life with a ‘fuck you’, two beers in hand? Not really. It isn’t brave to be an atheist, even if it’s scary. But I do feel gratitude for those who’ve written so masterfully about mankind’s need for compassion-sans-deus and for saying what is obviously true about religion and war. I hope you enjoyed yourself, Hitch, and I hope you’re spared.