It suddenly struck me, as I was compiling old column material for a recap of Julian Assange’s travails, that most men are cowards. (The “man” noun here is used in the traditional, generic sense, as in mankind. As a woman, I am part of mankind.) Perhaps I ought to use the word mensch — it means “a person of integrity and honor”—and ask: How many men have the courage and character to step up and honor the highest principles or the best of humanity when they encounter these? Too few.
Most live defensively or ignorantly, betraying the good for the bad or the mediocre, and justifying their ennui. That’s why men like Assange are impressive and important and true. They show us the principled way, at least in the political realm.
While most men live in-thrall to miserable entities or manipulative people and the bonds these impose; Assange has shown us the right way to live within our own orbits; dangerously, if you must, never on your knees; bravely seeking that which is the best and the finest, in principles and people. The finest is not the most perfect. Thus patience and tolerance, even love, is required, not rigidity and rejection in search of perfection.
Julian Assange, no doubt, was just cocky and young when he launched WikiLeaks—so confident in the liberal, tolerant polities that gave rise to his libertarian sensibility. Suddenly he found himself being martyred in a cause he thought he would simply win. Was he not sired in the Free World, a son of freedom?
That “Free World,” alas, has placed Assange in a position of giving his life in the cause of exposing global state and corporate corruption and the collusion betwixt. He should be thanked for his service, for Assange did not enlist to do The State’s bidding in futile, wicked wars in faraway lands, or in the corridors of power. Rather, he went-up against the Administrative, Warfare, Surveillance Supra-State and for The People.
An honest man asked on Twitter how to become courageous. I am hardly an authority. I try my best, in writing and in person—having never betrayed my first principles for popularity or pelf.
I have, however, known people who never step up, who live mired in cowardice, wasting their considerable mentation and manhood in a state of fear, and in the quest for equilibrium. Or, gulling themselves into believing that when they slavishly serve the unworthy, at the expense of the worthy and to the exclusion of higher quests; they are being principled—and ever-so good. Ignominy is theirs, brought on by fear and cowardice.
My humble reply, then, to the honest man aforementioned: “Within our orbits we can all try to stand up for the principles and people that are true and need our energies most. (And if you think that these people live in think tanks and political parties; appear on Fox News, work for Prager U, or have the material wherewithal to hold a conference—you are a follower; there is no hope for you.)
Oh, and brave men can FIGHT. But a man who picks fights—and feuds—with friends is never brave.
UPDATE II (6/19/022): “Man” is generic in conventional grammar. These insights apply, naturally, to women as well.