My latest revived hobby is reading. My newest interest is politics, and learning about what’s going on in the world. Reasoning? In my head I’m calling it an enlightenment. But mostly, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve finally overstayed my welcome, and I owe it — not just as a citizen of the West, but as a human — to educate myself.
I never really had any idols growing up. The closest thing to it was probably Shane Battier or J.J. Redick, and they both played basketball at Duke in my pre-high school days. So no, nothing serious. More recently, however, my intellectual juices have been flowing at a rate rivaling when I discovered Sabermetrics in baseball, and it’s all been inspired by one man: Christopher Hitchens. He may be the most knowledgeable individual I’ve ever come across, and it’s a bloody shame he died in 2011. Currently I’m reading Letters To A Young Contrarian, a collection of essays shortly predating the attacks on 9/11, which is when Christopher dedicated a greater portion of his time to explaining how harmful religion is (which is what most people remember him for).
When I was a senior in high school I registered as a Republican, but during the 2008 election (that fall) I voted for Barack Obama. In 2012 I did not vote. Growing up, among my immediate family and relatives, the word “liberal” always had a nasty connotation attached to it. I don’t know why. By the time I came to my senses and learned what it meant to be a “conservative” or a “liberal” — and what the two really stood for — I realized I leaned significantly further to the left, but that’s out of only those two options. In reality I don’t claim a political party, because I don’t believe in outside forces dictating the way I should feel about an issue.
For instance: when it comes to social issues, I side with human progress. I mean, it’s only been like 50 years since black people were given equal rights. It should be a no-brainer to give equal rights to the gay and transgender communities… one of the great advances of the West has been the understanding that everybody is made up of the same stuff. It’s a denial of basic biology to cling to superstition and two thousand year-old scriptures.
I’m optimistic that there’s a majority of people in my age bracket that think like I do.
I do, however, fear that the gap between those who think like me and those who oppose my worldview… will only expand and grow more violent as I get older. I can’t substantiate this by anything other than what makes most sense: the further the progress, the deeper those opposing it entrench themselves, doubling down on logical fallacies.
Freedom of speech is a treasure, and it’s worth fighting for. We, as civilization, should have the right to believe whatever ideas we want. We should also, however, be able to criticize beliefs. Once they start telling us we aren’t allowed to speak out with contempt against harmfully wrong ideas, we’re finished.
For example, over the last couple years the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) has seized control over large portions of Syria and Iraq, establishing Sharia Law… or put another way: the word of god is what governs. This means if you are caught stealing, your hands are cut off; if a woman is caught cheating on her husband, she is stoned to death in the streets; if you are gay, dead; if, like me, you don’t believe in the holy orders of the Koran, you are deemed an apostate and executed.
This is a cult of death, and a story that leaves only a few thousand (Muslim) survivors around after the complete destruction of human civilization.