Antionette Tuff, a Georgia elementary school bookkeeper, has become a household name following the release of her 911 call on Tuesday when armed gunman Brandon Hill entered the school where she works.
According to CNN reports, Tuff was held hostage by Hill. She called 911, relaying to dispatch Hill’s warning that he would shoot any armed police officers who came in the building. During the conversation, you can hear Tuff conversing with Hill in a calm and clearheaded way.
Through the course of this phone call Tuff talked with Hill and got to know his situation, eventually convincing him that if he put down his gun and left peacefully he wouldn’t be harmed. But she didn’t just talk at him. She engaged him. Instead of begging for her own life, she made the conversation about him, assuring him that if he backed down he wouldn’t be hurt. She told him she would let the police know he hadn’t done anything to harm her. She reminded him he hadn’t killed anyone yet. She focused on the positives in the situation. Then she told him of her own struggle after her marriage of 33 years ended.
After Hill agreed to lay his weapon down and allow the police to come in, Tuff told the man she loved him and that she was proud of him for deciding to take a better path.
I would like to believe she really meant that—it brought me to tears. Possibly she was just overjoyed with relief of not being shot, but maybe she saw this man hurting, this man who thought he had no other way out and felt something for him, because she too had felt the desperate cries of hopelessness once. Maybe she shared her story with this man to save her own life, but maybe she also wanted to share with him a piece of her, in hopes that it could take some of his pain away.
America has been struck with a sickness. People are driven to madness, killing their supposed loved ones, children, anyone, just to be heard, to get attention, to purge themselves of their demons. Why? Why, in one of the prosperous nations in the world, one of the most advanced and free, does this happen?
Tuff’s words, “We all go through somethin’ in life,” ring especially true to me. We all have our pains, our faults, our fears, our shortcomings, our oddities, yet so many of us lock them away to save face. Some of us are lucky to have people to lean on, others aren’t. It just takes someone, anyone to take notice, care, and accept. Maybe if we worked on loving people, taking care of each other, and personal acceptance rather than gun laws and further regulations, which seem to be tearing our nation apart (too many people in too big of a country with too many different backgrounds to ever agree) we would be more successful in protecting ourselves.
Instead of always pointing the finger at those who are “wrong,” perhaps we should open our minds a bit to the opinions of others and consider that at the heart of the issue, we all want the same thing. To be safe in our own homes, to have our children go to school in a safe place, to not have to worry every time we are in a public place. Maybe instead of constantly focusing on what in wrong in our society and country, we should take some time to talk about the things that are going right, the things that are working, and take some time to be thankful for all the blessings our country has experienced. Let’s be thankful for all the natural beauty that surrounds us in America. Let’s be thankful for all the places where the crime rate is still low. Let’s be thankful we’re a first world country. Maybe if we all just change out habits and way of thinking a little bit, our nation could completely change directions.
Be the change you want to see...There’s truth in these words, that’s why they’re repeated so much.
Another after thought: Tuff talked about how hard her divorce had been and that she had contemplated suicide. Obviously this woman emerged victoriously from her problems. Perhaps we can consider that this was a blessing in disguise. Would she have known what to say if she had not gone through such things? Perhaps she saved her own life, and Hill’s, and the lives of countless other people and children, all on account of her having been through something so traumatic she could relate to the mentally unstable Hill. It’s a bit of a stretch, but still it shows that the most negative, heart breaking things can be made into positives. That’s something to be thankful for.