Opinion: Defense mechanisms


Commentary by Terry Anker

The best offense is a good defense. Most of us Hoosiers have been confronted with this aphorism from our youth. We learn to drive defensively, have a favorite defensive end, and some of us advocate for defensive carry. We defend the flag, our honor and our rights. It is a fundamental tenant of the formation of our nation that sets alongside “We the People” in the preamble to the Constitution. Our framers held it to be a vital responsibility of government to “provide for the common defense” but not to ensure a good and aggressive offense.

So, is all this restraint warranted, or even advised? Has it served us to remain in the bunker or have we been better rewarded for hostile marches into enemy territory? Much has been said, in this column and elsewhere, about the pernicious and corrosive effect of remaining in a constant state of preparedness for calamity. When we imagine impending doom, humans develop a significantly shorter life expectancy. Suicide rates skyrocket and other health problems proliferate. Moreover, countless business and leadership books from “The Art of War” to the current trove of advice tomes nearly uniformly promote direct and decisive assertive action as the way to good health and prosperity.

If we find ourselves always on the defense, can we find our way to happiness? Perhaps there is a space between offense and defense. Perhaps there is a place of informed trust. Perhaps there is a way to be offensive and defensive each in their own measure. Friends simultaneously defend and provoke one another. We are all better for it. The same with loving families and dear colleagues. Is it no better to only protect as to only aggress? If not, how do we defend our solely polar decision?