Anyone who knows me soon realizes that I have few heroes, and I consider most entities of the human persuasion to be at least mildly stupid, if not outright moronic. Prof Richard Dawkins makes the very short list of my heroes. I am proud to say that I have even met him briefly when he visited UC Berkeley to deliver a fairly famous lecture (I forget which lecture considering that Berkeley has a truck-load of famous lectures) a few years ago. He signed my copy of the book by him, River out of Eden.
Of course I admire his intellect and his passion for rationality. What really amazes me is his indefatigable perseverance. Just listening to him repeatedly explain and defend his position in innumerable interviews on TV and radio, answering the same old questions that he has written eloquently and at length about in his many books, is itself tiring. I wonder how he can calmly and so politely deal with the steady barrage of nonsense that he faces relentlessly. That is what I admire the most about him — the Zen warrior who is not moved to distraction in his fight for sanity in a world that is given over to insanity. I bow deep in reverence to the Master.
Dawkins was recently at Time’s gala event celebrating ‘100 Most Influential People of the Year’. He wonders why he was chosen but most people who have read him would not hesitate to include him in the 100 most influential people alive in the world today.
Here’s a bit from his diary entry on his recent travels:
Whenever I suffer through an airport these days, I hear the mocking laughter of Osama bin Laden. Murdering three thousand innocent men and women with loved ones to weep for them (Allah be praised) was only the start (swamped by road accidents and domestic murders, 9/11 made no noticeable blip in the USA’s violent death statistics for a typical September). No, bin Laden’s lasting achievement, the one that has him sniggering daily into his beard, is to have created the Office of Homeland Security, risible monument to belated stable-door closure.
The payoff for bin Laden has been mayhem and chaos, costly delays and maddening inconvenience to millions of travellers, in every hour of every day, in every airport of every country (except some third world ones with the good sense to ignore the whole charade). Those useless plastic knives and forks were nothing but a signal to the home electorate: We’re gonna kick some ass, and these plastic knives show it, you better believe it. And did some bearded loon once pack explosives into his shoes? Right then, we’ll show those folks we mean business. We’ll smoke ’em out and teach those terrists who rules this town, yessirree. From now on nobody – and ah mean nobody – boards a plane without first removing their shoes, whenever they board a plane anywhere – and ah mean anywhere – in God’s own country.
And all we like sheep refuse to go astray. We follow the flock because we know that, if we so much as joke about exploding brassieres being the next scare, we risk being summarily locked up until rescued by a harassed British Consul. Better bite our tongue and endure the joke that Osama bin Laden is playing on all of us, through his Keystone-cops-like agents in the Office of Homeland Security.
I recommend adding RichardDawkins.net to one’s daily dose of sanity reading.