When I decided in 2006 to give up the work I was doing on internet policy and copyright reform, Aaron Swartz — the Internet turned social activist found dead in his apartment Friday — was there. Sipping a cup of water on a cold December night in Berlin, he pressed me, "How do you think you'll get anything done so long as there is this corruption?"
I didn't have an answer for him, because of course he was right. Six months later, I made the announcement that I was turning my focus to the problem of corruption. Six months after that, Aaron was among the first board members of "Change Congress." Change Congress is what morphed into Rootstrikers.
People have called me Aaron's mentor. The truth is the other way around. Aaron was my mentor. Since I first met him 12 years ago, he had pressed questions exactly like that. Again and again, his questions steered me, and guided me.
But no longer. I have written about the bullying that I believe contributed to this outrage. But I wanted to write to you to remind all of us that our fight was his fight. And that while only he was Aaron Swartz, we are all now Aaron Swartz.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his incredible parents.
“Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free
They would not listen they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now
For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you,
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you"
RIP Aaron Swartz, champion of liberty. We must end the corruption.