In a Huffington Post commentary, EMU research professor Lisa Schirch praised the conflict transformation skills used spontaneously by the school staffer who, on Tuesday, talked a gunman into surrendering rather than shooting inside an elementary school in a suburb of Atlanta, Ga.
“Antoinette Tuff is a national hero,” wrote Schirch, who is affiliated with EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. “Her story must be shared, passed onto future generations.”
Titling her commentary “She Didn’t Have a Gun… She Had MLK’s Dream,” Schirch pointed out that “learning to talk down a gunman is not some top-secret strategy. FBI agents learn how to talk down gunman. They use the same skills we teach in conflict transformation and peacebuilding. Listen, ask questions, share stories, show compassion.”
Schirch is also the founding director of the human security program under the Alliance for Peacebuilding based in Washington D.C.
A columnist in the Washington Post, Petula Dvorak, drew similar lessons from Antoinette Tuff’s sympathetic manner of speaking to the gunman, saying: “Are you listening to her, America? Her 911 call — listen to the whole thing; it’s riveting — is a portrait of poise, compassion and selflessness. She was exactly what America is forgetting to be.”