Major general Smedely Butler (deceased) wrote a little book called “War is a Racket,” in which he pointed out that the American military was used in wars against South American and other locales for the benefit of powerful corporations. To translate that, our government was willing to lead other people to die for the sake of corporate interests. I don’t think many of us our willing to put our lives on the line for money. For principles though, we are willing to forfeit our lives, and because principles are deeply held, subjective and approach the level of religious fervor.
Rhetoric can be strong, even if not backed by action. In the years and months leading up to the American Revolution, a Virginia legislator-Patrick Henry-cried out “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Those were strong, fine sentiments, but he also backed his words, as did many others like him. Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison etc were willing to fight and die for their principles.
Many people think that what Julian Assange is doing with WikiLeaks he does for the sake of money-and they are slightly correct. It is money that hampers liberty, when money is wielded to buy power-and that is corruption. In truth though, Assange is operating Wiki Leaks for his principles. He is essentially saying “Give US liberty, or give me death!” Assange exists so that the rest of us who have principles, but fight for our principles in smaller ways, have someone to look up to. He willingly has become a lighting rod.
Now, I do not want to see anything unfortunate happen to Assange, but it is uplifting to know there are some people who are willing to make that ultimate sacrifice for something much greater and more important than the sum of their lives.