The man’s voice, melodious and still bearing the lilt of his Scottish upbringing, drew me in. He was devastatingly witty and intelligent, but his appearance was slovenly, and I knew he smoked and was a committed “anti-theist.” He was old enough to know better on all counts, I thought. With a click of my keyboard, I dismissed him from my world.
Then, later, I caught a story about his death. Some mourned him as a friend lost to mankind. Intrigued, I returned to the internet and found him there, being interviewed in 2003 and again a few weeks prior to the end of his life. This time I perceived the gentleness in him, a gracious humility in his interactions with others, and deep concern for the future of humanity. There seemed to be beauty lying just under the surface of a face showing signs of too much drink. I wondered if, in a life that encouraged critical thinking and discouraged “jumping to judgment” on my part, he and I might have been friends.
A Google image search produced a photo of this man during his college years as a political activist with long, dark, unkempt hair and, even then, a look of brilliant determination in the set of his handsome, chiseled jaw. I repented of my earlier judgment. Unwilling and uninformed, I had not respected the man or his motives while he lived, and now he’s gone. I know where to find him, though, for he hangs on the airwaves forever. I am appreciative of his life’s work, to which he was true, and I mourn him as a friend lost to mankind.