The Great Adventure creates opportunities for people to hurt me. I know I can be wounded, I just happen to disagree with most people about how worried I should be.
I admit I carry these with me:
Plus I’m the Rogue Priest, so there’s probably at least one trick up my sleeve.
But for some people that’s not enough. Every day I hear: carry a gun. Be ready to defend yourself.
I question whether those two statements really go together.
I approve of self defense. I wish basic self defense was taught in all grade schools. It’d be a better world if pepper spray was given out free in 5th grade, and if high schools had gun safety courses. I own a pistol and I enjoy firing it at targets with my dad and our friends. (It currently resides at his farm, unloaded.)
And, you know, swords are great. Fencing is a holy art.
So using a weapon doesn’t scare me. I wish more people owned them. The sight of a hunting rifle shouldn’t make someone flinch. But guess what: we don’t have to be creepy about it.
And carrying a gun with you is a sure-fire way to be creepy.
I’m a creative person and in 1,300 miles I can’t imagine any scenario where a gun is needed. I can imagine plenty of scenarios where I need to defend myself, but in every single one of them pepper spray will do the trick. If pepper spray or a knife won’t work, a gun wouldn’t either.
So why would I take on the added liability of a firearm?
The same goes for other sorts of weapons. When I left behind my tomahawk I mourned it as a tool. I once outpaced my dad on felling 8″ diameter trees. I got started right away with my tomahawk while he gased up and started his chain saw. I finished my row before he finished his. What an amazing tool.
Chopping firewood, making beams, building shelter, hammering or prying—the ‘hawk is a thing of beauty.
It will also kill a man dead, but I’ve never once thought of it as a weapon. If it was with me it would hang from a backpack, its blade fully covered, awkward to reach and unsheathe in an emergency.
The best tools for self defense are small, light and nonlethal. If you sleep with a gun or a hatchet you are a weirdo: your plan is to kill someone who doesn’t need to be killed, and to scare people who pose no threat at all. On the other hand someone who sleeps with a pepper spray canister is just smart. You’ll never be called psycho for carrying pepper spray on a solo hike. People understand.
And that’s really what my self-defense strategy comes down to: people. Being friendly and sincere is your greatest weapon, more effective than bullets or blades, because it prevents most assaults from ever happening. Being a decent person won’t win a fight but it may mean you never have to fight at all.
The guy who suspects everyone of trying to hurt them is not likable. Neither is the guy who fingers a gun under his pillow at night.
We can smell that shit.
Successful travel depends on transmuting yourself from stranger to friend. Anything you have that retards that process should be removed from your gear and left in a trash can.
What would you carry with you for self defense on an adventure? What do you carry with you everyday?