When I first broached the subject of things Bigger than Oneself on the Anthro-l email list, the first response I received was a link to a song by Georges Brassens, Mourir pour des idées. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1h2po_mourir-pour-des-idees_music There is one verse in particular that resonates with me in regards to "causes". An english translation:
The Saint John Chrysotoms who preach martyrdom
Usually manage to hang around on earth.
Dying for ideas, let's be clear about it,
That's their reason for living, so they're not going to lose it.