A viral video began circulating just a couple of years ago, and it was the kind that usually sparks some kind of controversy.
The internet has enough videos nabbed from security cam footage of some violent incident or another. Thousands of viewers flock to their screens for shock value alone to see some random stranger in a convenience store draw a gun. We are gluttons for this kind of thing.
At first, you might think you know what happens next. Some hero is going to come out of nowhere with a gun, or with an impressive kung fu move, and completely disarm the attacker. He will save the day by whatever show of force necessary. Part of the thrill of sharing the video is the validation that whatever political cause you think this footage supports is one you can share with all your friends.
The incident took place at a police station in Huay Kwang, Taiwan. A distraught man entered brandishing a knife—not the smartest thing to do in a building full of armed personnel. He put the knife to his own neck and threatened to kill himself.
In that moment, Senior Sergeant Anirut Malee approached him at a distance. He could tell the dangerous man’s behavior was a call for help. He sat on a table and listened to the man tell of how he had worked for three days and had not been paid yet.
After some talking, the armed man agreed to hand Malee the knife. Then Melee, with his arms out, went in for a hug, tossing the knife away. He sat him down and gave him some water. The calmed man then cried and apologized for his threats.
The police station waived the fee for brandishing a weapon but sent the man to a hospital to be evaluated.
On top of that, since the knife-wielding man said someone had stolen his guitar, Malee offered to get him one.
As a cop, Sgt. Malee was trained to brandish a firearm and to use his body to take down an aggressor. But he didn’t have to use any of those things.
Officer Malee disarmed the man, and deescalated the situation, by showing kindness.
Watch the video. Notice what he does with his body language. He doesn’t show aggression. There is no shouting. He’s had all the other officers back away.
With all the negative news we see, stories like these need to be shared more often. Actually, they need to be created more often.
It is profoundly difficult to take a dire situation and put faith in the power of compassion. It sometimes seems like we are all too ready to draw our weapons, to be the hero by responding to threats with more threats.
Maybe responding in the right way takes training. Sgt. Malee was trained in using his body and tools to forcibly remove a threat, but he was also trained in negotiating. He knew how to talk down a situation.
The policeman also put his own life in danger. He approached a frantic man who had a sharp knife without a weapon in his own hands. He allowed himself to hug someone who a moment ago seemed about to take their own life or someone else’s.
He must have asked himself one question: Why did this man come here? Was he really looking for help?
Listening, and a hug. Sometimes that’s all it takes to be heroic.
You likely won’t have such an opportunity today. You may not ever. How often does someone approach you with a dangerous threat? Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with anything like that.
But for now, at least, you can share moments like these. You can help others believe in kindness. Think of what kind of content you share on social media. What message are you getting across? What do you intend to teach other people? If you were in a bind, how would you want people to treat you?
Kindness in a moment of duress can save a life. Kindness is brave. Kindness puts yourself on the line. Kindness gives people a reason to keep living. Kindness protects.