Tragedy Avoided: Resolved by Intelligent Decision

I salute Ms. Antoinette Tuff.  She did something few would have done.  She faced an armed intruder at the school where she worked, and got him to surrender.  No one was shot; nobody got hurt.

She was not the principal, the guidance counselor, a teacher or even a police officer–she was the bookkeeper.  Antoinette did not physically overtake or restrain him, but spoke to him.  She looked at him, and connected with her eyes.  She connected by displaying a peaceful demeanor, and with the words she so masterfully chose to use.  She never threatened or bullied him.  And, she didn’t panic–she stood in the face of adversity.

I wish to add further that the person she was dealing with has no reputation for making rational and intelligent decisions overall, and has displayed threatening behavior on several other occasions.  I’m sure you realize how this could make what Ms. Tuff was dealing with far more difficult than the situations most people ever have to face.

Ms. Tuff did something so many in so called “leadership” positions often have trouble doing; she spoke with him, and not just at him.  Ms. Tuff showed a wonderful ability that we all should envy, and that was to find a way to be persuasive by helping an adversary find a more intelligent choice than the one they’d started out to make.  And, she helped him to feel validated by making the better choice.

It was not harsh criticism or judgement he got from her, but conversation–dialogue. Ancient Greek philosophers knew several thousand years ago that dialogue was a much better way to resolve conflict and controversy than mere rhetoric.  Sometimes I think we’ve forgotten that, or for some reason, quit learning it.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the people we send to The United States Congress could learn how to do that?  Well, Thank you, Ms. Tuff.  Thank you very much.


The incident mentioned here refers to an actual incident occurring at a school in DeKalb County, Georgia on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.  I understand several other school staff members, teachers, and police officers acted in exemplary professional manner, and I salute them as well.


9 responses to this post.

  1. Hands Clapping! Two Thumbs Up!! Wisdom and Bravery in Action!!


  2. Well done, my admiration goes to Ms. Tuff – a true role model for all in how to relate

    “It was not harsh criticism or judgement he got from her, but conversation–dialogue. Ancient Greek philosophers knew several thousand years ago that dialogue was a much better way to resolve conflict and controversy than mere rhetoric. Sometimes I think we’ve forgotten that, or for some reason, quit learning it. ”

    Yes – we now have a fundamentally adversarial society. Competition is no longer about encouraging and celebrating excellence, achievement, and participation – it is about winning. Success is now determined solely in terms of material wealth or celebrity status. Territorialism and ownership now prevails over neighbourliness and community. Our legal, justice and political systems are adversarial and even our social institutions, churches, charities and educational institutions are more concerned with gaining higher status than others, than with satisfying their clients’ needs and achieving excellence for its own worth.

    Our world is no longer managed by peoples’ representatives working for the common good but by self-serving trans-global corporations; self-serving political opportunists; tin-pot dictators and masters of religious distortion and misrepresentation.

    Instead of recognising symptoms and seeking to rectify the underlying causes of them, our authorities pointlessly and continuously apply band-aids whilst claiming them to be solutions. Emotive key words are used to manipulate personal fears and perceptions and divert the majority from recognising the real causes of poverty; drug abuse; mental illness; disenfranchisement; slavery; corruption; aggression, ignorance and other clear signs of a dysfunctional and ailing society.

    We need to clone the Ms. Tuffs of this world because it is their calm and compassionate wisdom and personal humility from which we might learn enough to save our society. Without such learning, our society will continue its decline and degeneration towards self-destruction.


  3. Posted by Dostadawg on August 23, 2013 at 1:14 am

    She is a hero indeed. However we must remember that her approach does not work with a lot of thugs out there who do not value life. Had she encountered one of those people she would most likely be dead now, Good job, Ms. Tuffs


  4. Posted by C. Mack Amick on August 23, 2013 at 3:08 am

    So, what this means is, Wayne LaPierre was wrong when he said, “The only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” ?


  5. Posted by Mickey Foster on August 23, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    speaking with is so different from speaking to or at…..


  6. Van, what a marvelous post! I was thinking similarly when the news came out that this humble clerk is the true hero in what could have become another terrible tragedy. It is precisely because she took a risk with her own life to save the lives of others, not with a gun blast of her own, but with the power of connection. It could have ended differently, but it didn’t. God bless her! Brava!


  7. Posted by Robin South on August 23, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Amen, Brother Van. A marvelous example as an alternative approach to the usual “my gun is bigger than yours” approach. However, I still want to know that the police are somewhere close by. The situation at the school could have ended differently.

    A special cudo to you for suggesting those we send to Congress can learn a thing or two from this. The problem is, with few exceptions, most of our elected officials assume their election is confirmation that they have all the answers. Thus no conversation with “opponents” is necessary.


  8. Posted by little d on August 23, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Good news post VT, Thanks. You would know of course that good news usually doesn’t make the news at all. I’ve often pondered that reality. Seems there’s a mandate among those who own and thus dictate what is news and what is not. Could you imagine why this reality is so ? Who benefits from bad news ? Is it true that folks
    want only the bad news without hearing the good news ?

    Seems to me there is more to this observation than might be seen at its surface, but now’s not the time or place to discuss the evidence. I’ve given examples to others before of how different news would be if it was not based on the bad primarily. I’ll add
    a short tidbit of what I mean.

    ” Today out of the population of smalltown America, 99.8% of our Friends, Families, and Neighbors made it safely to work and school, returning safely to their homes which were as they had left them, safe and sound. Our thoughts and prayers do go out however, to the Families and Friends who were less fortunate. ”

    The above example would have been reported void of the facts of the matter, that the vast majority of People had a typically safe day. It would have been a exclusive on just how bad the few unfortunate occurrences were, with NO MENTION of the GOOD NEWS that the rest of us were unaffected by unforeseen calamities ect…

    Good News Network – GNN – I wonder what the difference in reporting would have yielded ? Maybe more good news ? I think so.

    good press,

    little d


  9. I salute Ms Tuff for her wisdom in approaching this potentially dangerous adversary with humanity and connecting with him eyeball to eyeball. She showed to him that she posed no threat. Meanwhile in Syria ..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: