I pride myself in not breaking the law. I know that does not make me unusual, but I really try to stay within leagal boundaries.

I rarely speed in my car, avoid illegal drugs and certainly don’t steal from others.

But a few minutes ago I saw a headline that made me think. It read, “Bank robber allegedly stole to pay for daughter’s chemo. Would you?”

Wow. That’s a tough question to answer. How far would I go if it meant protecting my children?

As I think about this, it kind of reminds me of “Breaking Bad,” where the star begins cooking methamphetamine to pay for his own cancer treatment. 

I think I can say honestly I wouldn’t steal to pay for my own treatment. I would try to find a legal way, but I wouldn’t begin robbing banks or cooking meth. But if it was my child, that might change things a little … or maybe a lot.

I think I can honestly say I would make a life of crime a last resort, but I couldn’t rule it out completely. I’m fortunate that I have friends and family who would help long before I had to get desperate enough to rob banks, but if I didn’t have help, I could get to that point.

I understand the man in the story has to face the consequences of his actions, but I hope the prosecutor and jury take into account his desperation when they consider his penalty.

 

* * *

As I write this, it is just a few hours after a TV cameraman and reporter were murdered while live on the air. Hearing and reading about the story today has been shocking and heart-wrenching. 

As a journalist for 20-plus years, I understand there is some tiny sliver of danger with my job. I have written stories about bad people who have done really bad things. More than once, I have had those people show up at my office unhappy.

But despite the fact I wrote stories detailing the worst things about them and often ran photos of them at the same time, I have never been threatened or attacked. In fact, that is the case with most journalists.

The only time I have ever had someone threaten me was at a wreck where the driver didn’t like the fact I was taking pictures of the accident and his wife who was injured. He yelled at me a few times and began approaching me when a police officer stepped in front of him and ended things.

While working in Williston, N.D., I worked alongside a reporter for The Associated Press who had spent several years in the Middle East, reporting from Iraq, Afghanistan and other places. He really risked his life to tell the stories he did, but he loved every minute of it. After working for the AP for a year, he left and returned to the Middle East, where he reports on riots and other chaos many of us never have to even consider.

In a post he put on Facebook on Wednesday from Lebanon, he said, “At my hotel in Diyarbakir, employees didn’t want to let me go on the terrace — one guy was afraid of stray bullets from potential clashes, another was more concerned about tear gas.”

Josh has lost friends who worked as journalists overseas, and Josh Wood risks his life to report the news. He knows it and accepts the risks. The rest of us rarely take that risk. We go to work with every expectation of going home. In my job, I face more danger driving to work than while at work.

That’s why it’s so devastating when fellow journalists  — TV, radio or newspaper —don’t make it home. 

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