Mid-April in southern Virginia means, for the most part, that residents can begin to count more reliably on warmer weather. “Spring is in the air,” as the saying goes. Indeed it was last Saturday when I decided to (finally!) take my kayak out on the water for the first time this year, as well as the first time since we moved to Virginia this past February.

So I loaded up my 15-footer, along with my life jacket, paddle, and a few other odds and ends, and headed to the lake about a mile from my house. I was so excited about finally getting out on the water that I forgot to apply sunscreen; which I’ve come to deeply regret over the past week.
Nevertheless, I knew from the get-go that I was in for a fun outing. Kayaking is one of my passions, and I’m not even a fisherman. I just deeply, deeply love getting out on the water, away from everything man-made, and taking in what God has created for me and His creatures to enjoy. And enjoy it I did; from the time I put in around 2 pm, I floated along the lake shore at a lethargic pace for over three hours, gently guided and propelled by my paddle, and took in the sight of turtles sunning themselves on fallen branches, trout leaping momentarily out of the water in an effort to tease fishermen, blue heron and hawks gliding over the surface of the water, and water moccasins.

Yep, you read that right. I encountered a reptile of the scaled and slithering kind during my trek across the lake. He (or she) was sleeping on a branch near the shore and as I got closer and finally realized what I was looking at, a mix of awe and slight panic hit me. Quickly recovering from the panic part, I decided I needed to get a picture, which I did, though the quality isn’t anywhere near as good as I’d like for it to be.

As I was ever-so-carefully angling my kayak closer to the branch so as to get the best shot possible, a thought occurred to me: why am I being so careful? Of course, I already knew the answer: because if I’m not, the risk of the snake attacking me will be greater. Why is that? Because animals, as part of their nature, defend their homes and habitats.

Humans are no different. We (well, at least those of us who are not sleepwalking through life) worry about what to do in the event of a break-in, a natural disaster, or any other threat to our safety and well-being as well as that of our loved ones. Maybe “worry” isn’t quite the way to put it, again, for those of us who take the time to earnestly devise a plan to address these “would-be worries.” Rather, we PREPARE for those contingencies, and as a result of it, we are too often labeled “neurotic,” “paranoid,” and a host of other less pleasant-sounding monikers. We buy guns, generators, extra fuel, gold, safes, and a host of other items that cause some people to roll their eyes dismissively at us as they go about their daily lives, activities, television shows, et cetera.

And yet, you rarely hear about any of us “preppers,” “gun nuts,” et cetera falling victim to a tragedy such as befall victims of break-ins, rapes, murders, and unpreparedness for a natural disaster.

I want to focus specifically on guns for a moment, since that’s been a hot topic of late on our cultural landscape. As I type these words, the United States Senate (in what I must say is a very rare stroke of brilliance these days) has stood up to the President of the United States, the Senate majority leader, and a host of other politicians, organizations, and individuals. I speak of those who have, frankly, done a remarkable job of capitalizing on the raw emotions generated by tragedies in places like Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado, and Tucson, Arizona and sought to parlay that into an infringement on our God-given, Constitutionally-sanctioned right to keep and bear arms such as has never been seen before in recent history. Thankfully, a majority of Senators (this time) had the foresight to see that one tragedy, or several, should not result in an even greater tragedy; namely, the loss of liberty in the wake of crime and/or terrorism.

Like the water moccasin in my previous illustration, we too have an instinct, and even more so, an obligation, to defend our lives, our homes, and our families from those who would threaten them…to include our very own government, should that horrific scenario ever play out. Ayn Rand said it best: “All the reasons which make the initiation of physical force an evil, make the retaliatory use of physical force a moral imperative.”

Unlike the snake, however, we also, as human beings, have the capacity to reason and negotiate and should make every effort to do so in any adverse event. However, reality and fallen human nature teaches us that, due to the very real and present evil that exists in the world today, sometimes negotiation is not an option…or if it is on the table, too often it ceases to be an option when the evil intentions of others become so manifest that retaliatory force is necessary to prevent evil from being unleashed on innocence.

What is my point? Stay armed and vigilant. And fight (as well as disobey) laws that infringe on your liberty and basic God-given right to defend yourself. As our Senate majority leader himself said last night: “The fight [to ban guns] has just begun.” (parenthesis mine).

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