It’s one thing to complain about how the Left has hijacked all of our major institutions, from academics to healthcare to sports. It’s another to stand up and do something about it.

But that’s what we need — people willing to speak the truth, no matter what it costs them — if our society is to hold on to even a fraction of the freedom and ingenuity that made it so great. Abigail Shrier is one of those people. An independent journalist who has highlighted the radicalism of transgenderism and the Left’s woke gender ideology, Shrier has stared down the mob more times than she’d probably like. And she has some advice for younger people who, if they do as she did and question the Left’s orthodoxy, will face the same pressure.

It’s inevitable, she told students at Princeton University, because these days, all it takes to “find yourself in the center of controversy” is to be one of two things: “effective and unwilling to back down.” In other words, if you have the courage to publicly challenge whether there really are more than two genders, whether systemic racism really is a thing that plagues our culture still, or any one of the other lies the Left tells — they will come for you. Shrier knows: She’s been targeted by the American Civil Liberties Union, Spotify, Amazon, and GoFundMe, all because she pointed out the risks of transgenderism and the effects it has had on young women.

It will get worse if the young adults who will one day run our institutions don’t do something about it now.

Shrier says:

I know why students keep their heads down. They are hoping for that Goldman or New York Times internship, which they don’t want to put in jeopardy. Well, any institution that takes our brightest, most capable young people—Princeton graduates!—and tells you can only work here if you think like we tell you to and keep your mouth shut, that isn’t really Goldman Sachs and it isn’t the paper of record. It’s the husk of a once-great institution, and it’s not worth grasping for. Talk to alums at these institutions: they sound like those living under communist regimes. That’s the America that awaits you if you will not speak up.

Courage to challenge the Left’s cultural radicalism does not come without a cost. Author J.K. Rowling has been harassed and physically threatened for speaking out against transgenderism. Former New York Times journalist Bari Weiss was bullied out of the paper by leftist peers who decided her views were a threat. Actress Gina Carano was fired from her leading role in Disney’s The Mandalorian for comparing today’s political climate to Nazi Germany’s.

But, according to Shrier, any short-term cost of breaking with the Left’s orthodoxy was worth it because it allowed her to feel “the magic and power of being alive.”

She says:

When I look back on my life thus far, it occurs to me that the decisions of which I am most proud—the ones that strike like an unexpected kiss—are not the times when I obeyed the algorithm. They’re the times when I defied it and felt, for a moment, the magic and power of being alive. When I felt, even for an instant, the exquisite joy of not being anyone’s subject. When I had the unmistakable sense that I’ve existed for a purpose, that I stood the chance of leaving the world better than I found it. You don’t get any of that through lock-step career achievement and you certainly don’t get that by being the Left’s star pupil.

Her message is one every conservative and free-thinking person should take to heart. Which would you prefer? A life of stability, comfort, and conformity? Or a life of challenge and principle in which you might actually make a difference? That’s the choice, so make it wisely.