News From The Woods - October 4, 2013


By Bob Ketchum

Originally Published October 4, 2013

"Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?"

I hear this all the time. Many times I have thought or said it myself, but I don't really think it is an exclusive statement. I think it's more a fact that bad news sells better then good news. Look on TV… All you see is the violence, hatred, and destruction going on all around us. It is our base human nature that causes us to rubberneck while passing an auto accident. Most people are ashamed to admit that the main reason they attend auto races is for that chance to see a "really good wreck". Why do we flock to the streets to watch a man walk a tightrope between two skyscrapers, or cross an impossibly wide canyon on a crotch rocket? On a lesser note, why are reality shows so popular these days? I think it's because we feel better about ourselves when we see someone less fortunate (or intelligent) than us. For that matter, why are we so quick to condemn our politicians when WE are the ones that elected them? Shouldn't we do more homework before going to the polls? Or do we figure "Well, what difference does ONE vote make anyway?" or "What can ONE person do to really make a difference"? (BTW, I looked it up and there ARE several instances where one single vote DID make a difference)

Why does it seem that there are so many more stories and instances of good people… sometimes people we know… sometimes people we love… family members, for instance - checking out early, while others that we HATE appear to be living large their entire life?

Well, sometimes it just happens that way.

Here in the physical universe, we are bound by the laws of physics. Let's say a tornado rips through a town but leaves a lone church intact. Is that an act of God or just the way things happen? Whether you believe one way or the other, no one really knows for sure. Ever. I have certainly had enough experiences - the ones we refer to as "near misses" - to give me the impression that either I am the luckiest guy in the world or "someone up there is looking out for me". But I will never really know while I am still alive on this earth. It's a simple fact. Now, while I am NOT an overly-religious person I DO believe there are much stronger forces at work in our Universe. I do not believe that a Deity has singled me out personally to baby sit my life. However, I DO happen to believe IN the things I have learned from reading the Bible. I know that the Good Book was written by men (irregardless of WHO was dictating to them at the time) and therefore subject to interpretation. Call me old school but I think the Ten Commandments are a good start, and strive to be the kind of person that embraces those values and morals. Part of that was my upbringing. My parents and I never had deep discussions about God and religion, and yet we attended church regularly when I was a child.

As a teen I had an opportunity to study the Science of Religion when I attended the First Church of Christ Scientist with my grandparents while attending military school in Florida for five years. It was a very interesting lesson on how religion fits in with the science and power of the mind, and I took away many ideologies learned from studying Mary Baker Eddy. I have always believed that the power of the human mind and spirit is grossly understood and understated. I believe that if you THINK you are sick, you can become sick. If a person who suffers has a strong enough will, I believe they can overcome seemingly insurmountable problems. It's all about conviction, resiliency, and determination.

But what about those with weak minds or weak spirits? What about the Sheeple that NEED direction and purpose to make sense out of their lives? Well, in my humble opinion that is what The Church was designed for… to give some meaning to the uncertainty and confusion in one's life when they are not equipped to deal with it themselves. Without a belief in The Church, the masses will eventually just let go and run amok (isn't that beginning to happen already?). I believe the Bible was originally written and created KNOWING that eventually the masses would need some form of anchor to hold on to in an insane world.

Now, I didn't mean for this article to digress into a study on the Bible and religion. I'm only laying ground work for the real purpose of this writing. During the course of my video career, I have had a wonderful opportunity to study people….. And especially when my career opened up to include the fascinating world of legal Videography. A large part of what I do for a living centers around the litigation arising from wrongful deaths, horrible accidents, intended violence, and just plain old human mistakes. As you may imagine I must immerse myself in the lives and circumstances surrounding each case that I am assigned to. Sometimes I have dozens of interviews to record and sift through; looking for that one good clip that sums it all up for that particular witness. I must weave a human tapestry, telling that person's story in such a way that the most cold-hearted insurance attorney would sit up and take notice.

In doing these interviews, I must point my camera at perhaps the mother of the deceased as she tells her account of her teen-age son's recent horrible auto accident. It's not an easy job by any stretch. This job does not improve with time because every story is different, and heart-breaking. I try to be as professional as possible, and channel my attention to the video monitor instead of looking at the witness. It helps a little, but the emotion sometimes breaks through that barrier and I find myself struggling to remain very still as tears stream down my cheek. I can't really look away from the monitor because it is my job to get that footage right the first time. There are NO "do overs". No one should have to sit there and bear their soul more than once. This is why we do these video jobs because we sometimes can spare that person the heartbreak of making those kinds of statements in a courtroom full of people.

I must say that in 100% of all the videos that I have conducted, the witnesses are telling the truth about their experiences. I have become a pretty good judge of people and I would recognize crocodile tears when I see them. I have yet to interview one witness that is comfortable in front of a video camera telling their story. Many times I have been requested to stop recording. I immediately comply. Sometimes we can start back up after a bout with the Kleenex box, but sometimes we just stop there and move on to another witness. There is no need to pour salt in an open wound. They may have to reckon with it eventually in a courtroom, but that is their decision to make. My job is to make each witness as comfortable as possible and be as low key as one can be, armed with a video camera and pinning a wireless microphone on a witness. I never use lights because they are too invasive. Instead, I did my homework and purchased a video camcorder that will shoot the best footage possible in the lowest light conditions. It's all a part of my job.

As you may imagine, after spending days interviewing witnesses, family members, close friends, first responders, doctors, state troopers, expert witnesses, truck drivers, ambulance drivers, etc., etc., I get a pretty good idea of what kind of person the victim is, or what the medical disposition is, or a good general idea of what happened at the scene. As Sgt. Friday said, "Just the facts, ma'am"…… But there is NOTHING as emotional as asking people to talk about others in distress. And sometimes the victim is alive- which is always a good thing - but either in some kind of medical distress or a permanent state of diminished quality of life.

Which brings me to my point: In almost every case where I am recording the victim's story I am amazed at how positive they remain in their demeanor. With all this "bad" going on around them, they somehow show the very best in human spirit. My heart reaches out to every one of them as they tell of their day-to-day routine since the event that has permanently changed their lives.

And it's that way in many of my friend's lives. They struggle with Cancer or other life-threatening maladies and yet remain positive in the face of the eternal struggle or even death. At heart, I believe most people want to be good. But it's just that "bad" sells better. My favorite magazine has always been The Readers Digest because they always have uplifting stories of the good in people and I can read about everyday heroes that we'd never have read about otherwise. We don't see that often enough. It's easy to get mired down thinking that people are bad when all we see on television and in print is the bad about humankind. The closest that television producers can come is doing shows like "The Biggest Loser". But even then it has to be some kind of competition.

Sometimes I just have to take a break from media exploitation. Facebook has given me some measure of positive enforcement because many of my friends find "good" stories that they post, which I in turn repost or share with others. I feel it is critical to my well being to spread some cheer among my fellow humans. My daily goal is to bring a smile to someone's face. If I've done that, then I have contributed to hitting the nail on the head on the coffin of the "dark side".


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