If your enemies are powerful, they can hurt you.
If you mess with Putin, he won’t do a damn thing, he doesn’t even need to; an eager subordinate will arrange your assassination with polonium-laced tea, killing you painfully over several weeks as a blatantly obvious warning to others.
Edward Snowden was planning on making some powerful enemies, so he got the fuck out of town when he did. Mad props to a rare realist; chilling in Moscow learning Russian beats spending remainder of life in American prison.
Making a cop run is inviting a beatdown. Irritating border officials is an excellent way to be detained for six hours with optional strip search. Investigating the financial or personal affairs of the elite is a great way to get some attention paid to your own life and times. Everybody knows this.
If you irritate – or worse, threaten – a powerful organisation, you expect to get hurt, and you make plans to avoid it. This isn’t the movies, and the hero doesn’t escape punishment by moral virtue alone.
On the flip side, if your enemies can’t hurt you, maybe they aren’t powerful.
If you spend your time dismantling oppressive power structures and sticking it to the man and you have no fear of reprisals, you might want to check exactly what it is that you’re dismantling and who it is you’re sticking.