NOWHERE TO HIDE
By Paul Proctor
July 22, 2008
I�ll never forget the day I downloaded the very popular Google Earth software onto my home computer and found stunningly clear and close-up aerial photographs of significant places from my past � and a few from the present. It was absolutely breathtaking to go from a satellite view of the entire planet, as if staring at it from the surface of the moon, down to an overhead view of the old house where I grew up.
But my feelings of fascination turned a little creepy when I clicked on the Google Earth feature called �Street View� and suddenly saw that old corner house from the very road that ran alongside it. And I was shocked to discover that I could easily navigate a 360-degree view of my old neighborhood with nothing more than a cursor and a click. In fact, to see this, you don�t have to download any software, just go to the website Google Maps and type in your address. Then click on �Street View.�
Here I was, hundreds of miles away from the old home place, sitting behind my desk in Tennessee, gazing into a computer screen at the collapsing metal fence along which many of my now deceased mother�s rose bushes used to grow back in Texas � and the front porch where I used to sit beneath the shade of a big Silver Leaf Maple and watch the cars go by. And, there in the front yard was another tree where a bench-swing used to hang that I put up myself. With a few more clicks, I could effortlessly move up or down the street either way and view three sides of that old rundown residence and yard � each click inciting another poignant memory and all the emotions that accompany a sentimental journey.
After that I found the little house and yard my family lived in the first four years of my life. That place is so old it was abandoned and dilapidated by the time I was a teenager. Yet, there it was, over a half-century later, on my computer screen, renovated and occupied once again. It was like being in a time machine! I also found, of all things, the cemetery where my parents are buried and could even make out the small headstones marking their graves from the satellite photo!
It seems our conspiratorial fears of a coming surveillance society have been all but realized. It�s finally here, isn�t it? Though the terrifying real-time surveillance displayed in Will Smith�s 1998 film, Enemy of the State, looked cutting edge 10 years ago, I�m sure, by today�s top-secret standards, it�s old school. I would think the technological wonders demonstrated in that movie had to have been obsolete back when it was filmed or it would never have made it to the big screen for public consumption and scrutiny. Even so, the age old rumor of military satellites being able to read a car�s license plate from a satellite in space always seemed a little far-fetched to me.
If I can sit here with my laptop and look at the satellite image of a family headstone on the World Wide Web, Lord only knows what government agencies can see and hear with their high tech gear. I suppose if the public at large was privy to their latest greatest technology we might all be looking for caves to hide in like Osama bin Laden, just for a little privacy.
With cameras now hanging over every street corner and parking lot � over every highway, byway, hallway and aisle way � and in every gas station, grocery store, shopping mall, office complex, government building, restaurant and recreational area we visit, it would seem the only way to escape someone�s watchful eye is to move out into the wilderness where there are no paved roads, automobiles, bicycles, pedestrians or surveillance cameras.
But, unfortunately, �the middle of nowhere� no longer exists.
You see, in my Google Earth search for memorable places from my past, I found, out in the middle of nowhere, a little trailer my dad bought back in the 60s that he had moved to a wooded hillside overlooking a pond on a friend�s 8000 acre ranch in west Texas where we used to hunt and fish when I was a kid � a rather remote place miles from the nearest farm-to-market road where, even to this day, there are no telephone lines, no paved roads or even an address to receive mail.
Some of my fondest memories are of paddling around that dammed-up desert canyon in a flat bottom boat with a fishing pole. The only sign of civilization out there was an occasional airplane or satellite quietly passing overhead � just tiny specs in the sky.
Now, many of those tiny specs are watching and recording whatever they see � some of which is now viewable on our very own TV and computer screens at home, as if to constantly remind us, there�s nowhere left to hide.
Even if we were invisible to the camera�s lens, we�re easily tracked, day or night by, among other things, our cell phone transmissions, our debit and credit card purchases, our ATM withdrawals, and our automobile�s integrated GPS systems � all old technology. Even when you pay cash for something at a little convenience store, your image is, more often than not, recorded along with the items you purchased and the exact time you purchased them by a mounted security camera overhead. The cameras outside the store record your vehicle, license number, the precise time you arrived and left and everyone that was with you.
Does all this post 911 technology make you feel any safer or any freer for that matter?
In time, I guess we�ll all be able to appreciate the frustration and torment celebrities go through running from the paparazzi. Famous or not, anyone with a simple cell phone camera can snap your picture or record a short video of you and post it on the Internet for all the world to see. And when Google Earth�s �Street View� traveling cameras finish photographing everything on the planet, someone will end up with a very powerful tool at their disposal, won�t they?
If you believe that people are basically good, Satan doesn�t exist and Peeping Sam has your best interest in mind, then you probably see the future as bright and promising. If however, you believe that man is basically sinful, �absolute power corrupts absolutely� and things are going to get worse before they get better, then you�re more than likely anticipating an arduous age ahead.
You see, there is indeed nowhere to hide. In fact, there never has been � not from an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God. But, the Devil is none of these, though the scriptures tell us he has aspired to be from the beginning � and may well be amassing some superstructure of surveillance and control through the machinations and machinery of men.
If the thought of this frightens you, just remember: They may be watching you and me, but the Lord is watching us all � and Judgment Day is coming.
�Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.� � Hebrews 4:14