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.