Commentary by Terry Anker
Some days are perfect. The sun is shining. We awake refreshed before our alarm clocks roust us from our sublime slumber. The day ahead is filled with anticipation and high expectations. Cheerful, we attack the day like an ice cream on a steamy afternoon. And then, there are other days. The ones in which the rain falling is expected to change to ice – likely during our commute. The alarm failed to sound (or, more likely, we shut it off accidentally because of a restless night) and we are now already late for work. The day itself lays out like a busy street after a hard winter – filled with potholes and hazards too numerous to avoid.
We take them all, these contradictory days, in stride. What choice do we have? Like a football team we gauge the nature of our opposition to plot our strategy. In some instances, we take an offensive stance. Running up the score, we expect to defeat weak resistance. But just as often, we must rely upon our defensive line. We dig in and cling to the earth, fighting for each inch as if they were yards. Do it we must; the game depends on our ability to stop the onslaught.
Yet, do we take the deportment too often? Would we be better if we ran the ball instead of burying it? Sure, it is OK to be defensive – sometimes it is the savviest move. But, it is not OK to feel perennially defensive. Human interaction requires that all parties engage and participate, each time, every time. When people imagine themselves under attack, they claim pardon from engagement. And, in the most severe and deplorable cases, they bully those around them into equal withdrawal. Civil societies advance while dictatorships do not. Isn’t a constantly defensive posture a failed strategy?