Friday, August 23, 2013

A Thank You They Won't See

A few days ago, school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff talked down a young man who had arrived at the school where she worked with a firearm taken from a friend.  She engaged him while having dialed 911, discussed his situation, and eventually convinced him to put down the weapon.  She is universally being hailed as a hero, and rightly so.  To my mind though she is not a hero because she was successful in calmly disarming the alleged would-be shooter.  She is a hero because she tried.  Had she been unsuccessful, her attempt would have been none the less heroic.

And this brings me to say "thank you."  Thank you to every parent, friend, stranger who has attempted to talk down a young person from irrationality to reality.  Whether or not the effort was successful, I do know your actions were heroic.  So many people wouldn't have tried, certainly not with the same calm and the same humanity you showed.  When you've been successful, often, no one knows that you did it.  When you've not been, no one acknowledged your valiant efforts.

This afternoon, I calmed down my son who has an intellectual disability and emotional and behavioral problems.  He was threatening to hurt himself, suggesting he needed hospitalization.  With years of practice from so many of these conversations, we talked to him, waited, watched, helped.  He did calm down.  There have been other times we have made the same effort but not been successful; he didn't quickly return to rationality then, once he has needed to be hospitalized, another time taken to an emergency crisis center.

Compared to many people's experiences, whether one-time or frequent, with other young people who are unable to make sense of their immediate world, ours this afternoon was quite tame.  But it reminded me to say this.  To say a "thank you" to so many people who have made a difference or even just tried to make a difference when they had someone nearby who may have genuinely been a danger to themselves or to others.  You are heroes, even if no one is telling you this.

1 comment:

galiah said...

You are truly a hero...