It was spring break. A few friends and I held a beach bonfire for our kids.

Two hours, three pizzas, and a lot of s'mores later, Anthony, the owner of Light Me Up beach bonfires, arrived to thank us for using his service.

I'd spoken with him by phone to arrange the festivities. His work ethic immediately struck me. Had he attended the Chick-Fil-A school of customer service? It seemed like it.

After he gathered his chairs and snuffed out the blistering fire, my friends and I started a conversation with him, mostly about the beach and COVID.

How did he survive?

"My buddy was arrested during COVID. He surfed alone. The cops waited for him. There was no one else out there, but they arrested him as soon as he got out of the water."

"Because COVID will leap on you while you're surfing alone?" I couldn't resist.

We laughed. Then he grew serious.

"He just got it settled."

"Just now? It took this long?"

"Yes. You know, I got kicked off the beach more times than I can count. The cops would wait. You couldn't walk down here unless you owned property on the beach."

"But you're a local, right?"

"Yes. But it didn't matter."

We continued to pepper him with questions.

He was sharp.

And I'm not saying that just because he had a Make America Florida hat.

He told us he found work during the shutdown. He built dune fences to provide for his young family - anything to make ends meet.

Failure was not an option.

As we talked, two things struck me.

First, he reiterated just how long they were closed.

"Two months. 3 weeks." He was a young business owner keenly aware of what was at stake during COVID. Like many Americans, he felt the crushing blows.

"When did it open back up?" One of us asked.

That's when he said this: "The business owners wouldn't stay out of the county government offices. We didn't leave them alone. That's when the shutdown stopped."

And there it was, the point of the entire conversation.

Freedom.

It is granted to those willing to fight for it.

It was a stern reminder and an earnest plea as I considered the end of Alabama's legislative session.

Honestly, did we need to fight about pregnant women and access to pot? Are we pro-life or not?

Did we really hire math coaches to teach what has failed?

Did we really kick a school choice bill to the curb?

Anthony's words have echoed in my mind since the bonfire.

Do we value our freedom? Enough to put up a fight for it?

Will we allow our elected officials to continue their unbelievably destructive ways? Often without any accountability or humility?

Or will we bother them, like the business owners at the beach?

Perhaps, we should get biblical? Like the woman in the New Testament parable who had her plea heard and her request granted because she would not leave the judge alone?

No was an unacceptable answer.

Are we willing to do the same?

To refuse to take no for an answer?

And to actively thwart the insidious encroachments upon our freedoms?

Are we willing to continue asking uncomfortable questions?

Like this one: Are our leaders so indebted to those lining their pockets that they've abandoned their character for a dollar?

I believe the answer is yes.

Not for all. But for too many.

This is why we cannot afford to leave our leaders alone even in the legislative off-season - and thank God for that.

This week, Chris shared thoughts from a phenomenal book called Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday.

Holiday quoted Ben Franklin, "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." He then added, "Not just to tyrants. But also to bullies. Liars. Abusers. Frauds. Demagogues. Cheaters. And bad actors."

Later, he wrote, "We cannot tolerate abuse, constraints, or injustice. We can't hide from our problems. We can only step to them. Submission is no cure. Nor can we expect outrages to go away on their own magically. We must draw the line somewhere, if not right now, then very soon. We must demand our sovereignty. Insist on it. Each of us has more power than we know."

Friends, we must tend the fire of our freedom.

This is our sacred duty.

Amie Beth Shaver is a speaker, writer, and media commentator. Her column appears every Wednesday in 1819 News. Shaver served on the Alabama GOP State Executive Committee, was a candidate for State House 43 and spokeswoman for Allied Women. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].