Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Death of Mark Daily.

Christopher Hitchens has recently written a very moving article about a brave young man named Mark Daily who, after reading an article by Hitchens regarding the morality of invading Iraq, made the decision to enlist. He enlisted with the specific purpose of going to fight for the liberation of Iraq, joining one week after the invasion started. Less than three months after his arrival in Iraq, he was killed in a roadside blast whiling riding in a Humvee. Another Humvee was intended to take the lead position in the convoy, but as the Humvee was not properly armored, insisted on taking the lead. Although his Humvee was armored, it was no match for 1,500 pounds of high explosive. Mark Daily was a great loss to the Army, and to the world.

He was a great loss to the world because he was, even apart from his army service, was a very fine young man. According to his family, he would not let others be bullied in school, won an online argument with a neo-Nazi (not that that is particularly hard), and joined the army expressly to liberate the people of Iraq. His death was a great loss.

Hitchens, by his own account, felt a bit responsible for Daily's death as an article he wrote influenced to his decision to join. He got in touch with Daily's family, and they kindly invited him to go with them when they sprinkled their son's ashes along his favorite beach, as was his request.

While this story is definitely sad, it is also a uplifting. Daily is resting in peace, where he wanted to be buried, and he fought a good fight in Iraq. He saved the life of others (including that of one man who had seven children) in his death, and he was a first-class soldier. In my Christian worldview, and most others, Mark Daily led a full life, one that he can be proud of.

The only worldview in which Daily is not a hero is Hitchens own, if he followed it to its logical conclusions. If we postulate that there is no afterlife, from Daily's point of view, the world ended the day he died. And what had Daily accomplished? He had fought to save the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator, but he got nothing for it. (Remember that Hitchens assumes there is no afterlife).

Most religious people do good deeds in the hope of experiencing a desirable outcome in the afterlife. But Hitchens assumes Daily will have no afterlife. Some believers are holy enough to do good deeds simply for the love of God. But Mark Daily was a atheist, and if he was a believer Hitchens see his belief as illogical.

I find it odd that Hitchens can writes so movingly and well about a man whose action he should find illogical. While I am sure that he would disagree, I see this tenedancy as evidence that, despite his best efforts to eradicate belief, Hitchens still reasons from a religous standpoint in matters of the soul.

A quick notes. I would read Hitchens' recent article in Vanity Fair about his reaction to Daily's death (link), as well as his original article (link) that inspired Daily to enlist. These are both brilliant articles. In addition, Mark Daily's MySpace page (link) is worth visiting.


At October 7, 2007 at 7:56 AM , Blogger Beth said...

I had read the Hitchens articles from the links you provided in the past posting, but just read the link to Mark Daily's myspace page.

As a Christian, I do believe someone like Mark Daily indeed is in a better place, even if he didn't believe in an afterlife.

Daily called himself a humanist, and if one believes in only this life as all we have, then his actions actually are not illogical, he felt it his duty to make the most out of the only life he believed we have (that of the one on earth) and so he wanted to end tyranny to the oppressed on earth. But whether Daily's intentions were based on humanist or Christian beliefs in helping others, I think his writings are inspirational in that we all need to examine our beliefs and not just give lip service but actual service to help others.

I am so glad you posted this Daniel, this story has moved me tremendously.

At October 7, 2007 at 8:27 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Beth 100 percent.
Good job Dan.

At October 7, 2007 at 5:47 PM , Blogger Marian said...

Well, I am a Catholic, and I don't think atheists go to Heaven. Otherwise, why believe in anything or even follow the Commandments. Why try to convert anyone? Actions have consequences, and so to beliefs, that's why religion IS important, not just sentiments. Today everyone wants to think that so long as anyone has some good feelings or is kind to others, they are saved. It is the religion of the New World Order, of humanism, not of Christendom.

At October 7, 2007 at 7:13 PM , Blogger Beth said...

Marian, I am also Catholic, and I believe in a forgiving God. This man's myspace page said he was agnostic and a humanist, not an atheist, but even if he were I think God gives us purgatory to get to know and accept God as their Father.

At October 8, 2007 at 5:55 AM , Blogger Spoticus said...

Marian, I'm pretty sure following the Commandents simply because you want to get into Heaven is a terriblly self-centered way to live.

The act of doing good works for others because you want to make their lives better is the best life anyone can live, regardless of their religious beliefs.

Your view point is the problem with the religious right today. The Church does not agree with your interpretation of atheism.

Any truth-seeking, kind, loving person can be "saved." Rather than jumping on the Commandment-band wagon, try focusing more on the Beatitudes of the New Testament.

At October 8, 2007 at 10:43 AM , Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

God rest this brave man's soul.

He is a true hero!

At October 8, 2007 at 2:55 PM , Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

thanks so much for sharing this with us...Blessings!

At October 9, 2007 at 9:10 PM , Anonymous Military mom said...

I am a proud mother of a Navy SEAL. My son just returned from his third deployment to Iraq and the Middle East. He was there at the start of the war when he helped to dismantle the mines that Sadam had linked to all the oil rigs,that, had they been detonated, would have caused one of the greatest man made diasters in history.
He firmly believes in his mission to protect our country from terrorists and has put his life in harms way daily to prove it.
He was wounded this last time but is now home safely. Thank God and all those who prayed continually for his safe return.
Before he left on this last deployment, he gave me a Ranger Rosary that he made for me. It is used by the military because it is made out of Ranger beads and M-4 parachute cord and is easy to carry. He taught me how to make them and I promised to make one for anyone who asked. When people heard about them, I got many requests for them from those in the military and those who supported them. It was heartwarming to know that so many people care and pray for our military.
These men and women who have volunteered to protect our country are noble heroes. My son lost several of his teamates but he knows they also believed in what they were doing to keep our country free and bravely made the ultimate sacrifice.
I have another son who left a very good job and easy life style to become a para- medic fire fighter after 9/ll. He wanted to do someting that was more meaningful. He and his fellow fire fighters communicated with and supported my SEAL son and his team mates.
I am very blessed to have two sons who so willingly love and serve our country and put their lives on the line every day so that those Liberals who hate everything that the US stands for can voice their anti American garbage.
You have a very interesting blog. Your Aunt told me about it and thought I would like it. She is right. Keep up the good work. With young men like you out there, our country stands a chance of survival.

At October 10, 2007 at 5:38 AM , Blogger Beth said...

Military Mom - God bless your sons, and you who raised up such noble sons! Thank them for their service from me.

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