Monday, December 19, 2011

The good, the bad, and the sometimes-ugly

The past week has seen the deaths of three people who represented each of the attributes above.

The good, Vaclav Havel. Man of the arts, leader of his country as it moved out from under the Russian thumb. If ever there were a combination of intelligence, creativity and integrity in a leader, he'd get my vote.

And then there's the matter of the unquestionably bad, Kim Jong-il. It's hard to think of a leader who might present a greater contrast to Havel than this man. Dictator, suppressor of human rights, threatener of nuclear war -- how awful could one person be? And oh yes, the propaganda about him was always amazing, like the story of his first game of golf, when he shot the Superman score of 38.

And then there was Christopher Hitchens. Although he was no world leader, he certainly exerted a broad-reaching influence with his books and other assorted writings. And though his work was always thought-provoking, he did express a few sometimes-ugly opinions. To my mind, the worst was his support of the unnecessary war in Iraq that G.W.Bush created. (If only that trillion dollars could have been put to better use.)

And while Hitch certainly didn't expect any kind of afterlife, who knows what conversation might be if these three were to meet up? Wherever they may be (or not be), may they rest.

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