What do you call a transgender person in the military who provides Wikileaks with access to one of the largest data collections of the US military to ever be made public?
Her name is Chelsea Manning. When she first made world-wide headlines she was known as Bradley Manning. A person at the center of one of the biggest news stories of all time. Manning will finally walk out of military prison this spring. Barack Obama commuted the sentence on one of his final days in office.
There is something about giving up ones freedom to expose not simply the truth, but the hidden truth. The hidden truth that has been hidden purposefully. The hidden truth that has been hidden purposefully by people in positions of power and authority.
We all see injustice in our lives. Living life means to witness injustice. There is so much good in the world, but there is also a lot of bad. To stare the good in face and actually do something about it is commendable. To do something knowing there will be a negative personal consequence is admirable. When those consequences are solitary confinement in military prison, well, now we’re talking about a whole new level.
Cowardice is the standard in the developed world. Bravery is showcased in clothing choices and mate selection. Passive aggressive no longer aptly fits the abeyant nature of the modern condition.
Many were too scared to even look at some of the video material Manning leaked. Many more don’t have the conviction to read much of the other material manning leaked that shows the true nature and motives of modern warfare. It makes sense that many of those same people would reflect their self-hatred for those failures of character onto someone who has them in spades and is one of those millennial cross dressers to boot.
There are many people who don’t even want to look another person in the eye on the bus, at the coffee shop, or waiting in line at the grocery store. Are people like that going to stare down solitary confinement in a military prison in the face, and still take action to serve the greater good in the face of being called a traitor by their government and fellow (hu)man?
We accept many wrongs as the norm. Chelsea Manning refused to do this. The price for consent or defiance of these norms is the same, freedom. The norm is to accept our gender whether we are congruent with it or not. The norm is to accept what the Military Industrial Complex does regardless of cost or collateral damage. Both of these norms are very powerful and entrenched.
Just as passive aggressive is no longer a suitable term for confrontation in the modern condition, brave is not a suitable term for what Chelsea Manning has done for the global village. A living, breathing dark knight. Hated and maligned for being very ordinary yet willing to do the extraordinary without care for the personal cost she must pay and has paid.
Not a martyr, a harbinger. A symbol of the future. A future where we don’t accept or stay silent about what is wrong regardless of perceived norms. A symbol of hope. Hope for every confused coward that walks through life in a daze that they can tangibly change themselves and the world. An icon of the millennial generation that desperately needs heroes of substance over style.