There is one moment when he admits to suffering something like a crisis of the soul, though a brief one. Hitchens was, notoriously, one of the cheerleaders for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In early 2007, he heard about the death in Mosul of a young soldier from California called Mark Daily, who had left behind a statement explaining his reasons for having volunteered to fight. As reported in the Los Angeles Times , Daily had thought hard about a war whose justice he had initially doubted, and eventually felt the call to take part: ‘Somewhere along the way, he changed his mind. His family says there was no epiphany. Writings by author and columnist Christopher Hitchens on the moral case for war deeply influenced him.’ Hitchens encountered this story out of the blue in an email, and he recalls:
Belief in murderism creates a hostile and ineffective society whose weird beliefs can only be countered by accepting that murder is rarely a terminal goal, but a usually result of strategies pursued for other reasons. We accept that having a terminal goal of killing people seems so awful, inhuman, and incongruous with the sort of decent humans we all know – that it’s a very strange explanation to even consider when other, better ones are available. We can apply the same analysis to racism. The discussion questions in Part I already started the process, but we can go further.
Paula led a life of service. She worked as a volunteer helping women and children, eight hours a day, six days a week. She never had any money, but she needed very little. When she died she had nothing and she needed nothing. During her illness I had to let go of everything: her laughter, her voice, her grace, her beauty, her company and finally her spirit. When she died I thought I had lost everything. But then I realized I still had the love I had given her. I don't even know if she was able to receive that love. She could not respond in any way, her eyes were somber pools that reflected no light. But I was full of love and that love keeps growing and multiplying and giving fruit.