This week it’s my turn to produce a column for one of the local newspapers in these parts. The brief tells me that the choice of subject is mine, but to please, (very polietly written, of course), make it topical or tie it in with the week’s news. So, with that in mind my piece, on spies and spying appears below.
Many years ago – way back in the 80s, there was a TV show called, “Watching.” It was a sweet, romantic comedy about a young couple, making their way in life. The show’s title came from their shared interest in people watching; in shops or cafes they would speculate on occupations, personalties and life-histories of the people around them. Since then, I’ve met many folk who do the same thing, indeed, in some respects we all do it. Everyone we meet is filtered through the lens of our own assumptions and ideas, and we often get it very wrong!
This type of people watching is, though, relatively harmless. Our opinions and assumptions are just that, our own! So they don’t usually have life-changing ramifications for others. There’s another type of watching however, that’s hit the headlines – spying. Of course, those involved, don’t call it spying, it’s called, “intelligence gathering,” and is undertaken by the security services of the various countries who have the technology and expertise to do it. The rationale behind such watching is keep us safe; to sniff out terrorists and protect us from enemy states. Most of us, I suppose, are quite happy with that, aren’t we? It’s more difficult to understand why the US ‘spooks’ are listening to the German Chancellor’s ‘phone calls.
More and more of our lives are accessible to the world these days through social networks; the http://www. our smart phones, even CCTV. And even if you can escape all this, you’re not likely to be annonymous. Tesco and co know a great deal about you from your clubcard. More and more of our very personal information is readily available to all and sundry. Does this matter? There are arguments for and against, but whatever you think, we live in a world where survellience is a part of life.
When I was small, I used to have a recurring nightmare about a disembodied eye that continually watched me, and when I first went to Sunday School, I was dismayed to learn that God watched my every move. This was scary stuff. I most definitely didn’t want a God who was able to see past the shiny facade I presented to the world, into the dark, murky places of my inmost being that even I was afraid of. Over the years though, I have learnt to live with, and even delight in the all-seeing God with whom I now have a grown-up relationship. Finding someone who knows me inside and out and is loving and accepting is something, I believe, we all want. Spied on by strangers whose motives are unclear – no way! Looked after in love – yes please!