"I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy."
-- Bradley Manning --
In popular culture, the individual who stands up against injustice or who calls attention to atrocities in our society is usually conceived of as someone who is tough, independent, and tenacious - a hero. In the movies or in the typical novel, he or she is usually "good-looking", charming, with some measure of sexual appeal, and one with whom we tend to sympathize and identify. This individual is the individual of our fantasy, certainly not the individual of reality. We seem to care more about the physicals aspects of the individual rather than the principled stance the he or she takes. Pfc. Bradley Manning, convicted yesterday for leaking files to Wikileaks, far from fits the preceding popular profile. To some he was crazy, weak, pitiful, a mere runt, a "faggot", an object of ridicule and bullying, and in crisis because of his struggle with gender identity. And it is the combination of those things that made us miss or fail to see his most defining aspects - his moral courage, his integrity, yea...his humanity. Convicted for, among other thing, exposing our war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and for exposing our support of the 2009 military coup in Honduras, Bradley Manning's potential life sentence might seem as a huge defeat for true justice in that people might now be afraid to expose injustice wherever it is manifested. However, his "punishment" simply elevates and puts a higher value on the principle of speaking out and taking a stand against all forms of injustice. Mr. Manning recognized what the price of exposure might be, and the fact that he was prepared to accept that price underscores his admirable moral courage and makes him a hero in my books.