One of my all time favorite stories of nonviolence in action is that of 92-year old, Pauline Jacobi. Getting into her car in the parking lot of her local Tennessee Walmart, a young man entered her passenger side wielding a gun. “Give me all of your money or I’ll use this.” Jacobi looks at the man and tells him to do his best, but she adds, “Jesus is in my car with me, he’s with me all of the time, and if you kill me, I’ll go to heaven and you will go to hell.” The young man was taken by surprise. He certainly did not expect this kind of resistance, maybe a fight, but not a refusal. Imagine, a 92-year old woman would not just throw her money at him and cower in fear!
The gun comes down. He doesn’t really want to use it, anyway. They begin talking–about faith, about God, about the challenges of life. He breaks down, crying. She listens. (We seem to do a lot of listening in nonviolence, have you noticed?) As he steps out of her car to leave her–unharmed, both transformed–she asks him to come back. She opens her wallet and gives him all of the money she had: ten dollars. Not coerced, but of her own free will. She asks him, with a bit of mischief, to please not spend it on whiskey.
Share the story of Pauline Jacobi and do your best to explain why it worked. Use resources from the Metta Center for Nonviolence if you need support in doing so.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org