Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How To Talk Down a Gunman

Act #240:  Slow down and notice those who are hurting.

Last Tuesday a woman successfully persuaded a gunman to put down his rifle at the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Center just outside of Atlanta, and surrender.  Not a single person was injured.  She wasn't a trained hostage negotiator.  She wasn't a law enforcement official.  She wasn't the gunman's mom.  She was a bookkeeper named Antoinette Tuff who spent about an hour or so not hovered under a desk, not begging for her life, but rather  divulging her own personal struggles to a mentally unstable stranger, telling him she loved him, and offering to walk him outside so police wouldn't shoot him.

Ever wonder what you would do in the same situation?  Would you remain calm under pressure?  Would you have it in you to see someone for who they are, and not for the horrendous crime they are about to commit?  Would you be willing to show your vulnerable side and treat someone intent on hurting others, with that level of compassion?

What if I told you, that much like Antoinette Tuff, you and I have the power to stop a gunman?  What if I told you that you didn't have to run out and get a job at a front office of a school, but that you could, in fact do this at various moments throughout your daily life? 

It's easier than you think.  All it takes is us slowing down to notice people around us who are hurting, relating to them as equals, revealing some of our own vulnerabilities, and expressing unconditional love.  They are all around us.  We just have to notice.

The man who cuts you off on the interstate
The rude and disrespectful fast food clerk
The guy from college who posts offensive Facebook comments
The problem kid that bullies your child
Your confrontational, passive aggressive co-worker
The punk teenager in your neighborhood

Slow down.  See them for who they are beyond their troubled, defensive exterior.  Meet their scowls with a smile, their harsh words with kindness.  Tell them you may have also had a crappy day or two.  Tell them it will be OK and that they are appreciated.  That they matter.

You never know when you might be foiling a future gunman.

"It's going to be all right, sweetie.  I just want you to know I love you, though, OK? And I'm proud of you. That's a good thing that you're just giving up and don't worry about it. We all go through something in life."
~ Antoinette Tuff

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