On Tuesday of this week, God found it fitting to show our nation and the world the power of love. On that Tuesday morning a heavily armed man enters an elementary school ready to wage havoc. It was surely to be another school tragedy that ended with innocent children and adults massacred on school grounds. However, a miracle was in the works through an unarmed “good woman” aptly named Mrs. Tuff.
As fate would have it, the would be killer was met face to face with a loving and faith-filled school worker who skillfully negotiated the situation and saved the lives of countless people. She calmed the shooter; empathized with his situation; assured him of his value and ultimately showed him a love that would eventually save his life. By all accounts Mrs. Tuff is a true American Hero.
I have always struggled with a commonly accepted belief. It goes something like this, “if someone comes into your home to do you harm. You are justified in harming them.” This is the belief that has ignited the proliferation of hand guns in homes. Many of my friends and family members have bought hand guns and are prepared to use deadly force on any intruder that enters their home.
In a loving society, we take care of our neighbors. We see them as extended family members. We rear the children in our community as if they were our own. We shelter and protect each other from harm and danger. And in our most challenging hours, like Katrina and 911, we see our humanity at it's highest potential.
However, the question arises, “how can I respond to someone who wants to bring me harm, with a spirit of goodness and kindness?” What are we to do with someone who wants to hurt or kill us, when we just want to protect and shelter what belongs to us?
Consider this. Chess is a war game. The idea is to trap the opponent's king and dominate his land. In most of the games that I have played, my opponent was out for blood. They were trying to kill me and take all my pieces. On the contrary, my goal is always to teach, learn and trap them. You see, a great game of Chess is like a conversation with a stubborn student. The student's goal is the be right. The teachers role is to dispel ignorance and replace it with truth. True enough, there is one winner in each game of Chess. I want to win and my opponent wants to win. The winner in Chess, as in the winner in life, is the player with the highest truth. John Milton said it this way, “Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?” Truth will always rise above fear, lies and ignorance.
In the game, I use strategy, timing, reason, sacrifice and good choices to win. Mrs. Tuff demonstrated the same skill in her challenge on that Tuesday morning. She was faced with a player who came to kill and destroy. Her response was strategic and thoughtful. She used excellent timing to calm the situation. She said later in an interview that if she had allowed the man to leave the office he would have certainly hurt the children. So, she sacrificed her own safety and kept the armed man with her. Every step of the negotiation, she made thoughtful choices and ultimately out maneuvered the gunman. While her strategy was flawless, her truth was undeniable. It is a truth spoken by Martin Luther King four decades ago. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” Yes, loving your enemy is a big challenge. Yet, in this game of life, ultimately, it is the only way to win.
Thank you Mrs. Tuff for letting love shine into a dark heart and reminding us of the power of love. See her interview at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1q0_gTcs_Fs