Wednesday, November 28, 2007

CCTV Society

I don’t consider myself to be that old, (although my children might disagree), but I can remember being able to go out in public without my every move being followed. No, I’m not getting paranoid and I haven’t been watching too many episodes of Spooks. The fact is that it is difficult for any of us to walk around the local shopping centre without our actions being captured by a CCTV camera. Apparently, some 4 million of the things are constantly scanning the streets of Britain. We have more than any other country in Europe.

George Orwell’s novel, 1984, painted a picture of a totalitarian state that kept its citizens under constant surveillance. Everywhere you looked you would be reminded that “Big brother is watching you”. Now, you might think that the people of this country would be alarmed at the rise of our very own Big Brother state. Isn’t it a bit intrusive to be watched as you buy your morning paper each day? But the strange thing is that lots of people find it comforting to be subject to the gaze of a CCTV lens. It means that someone is looking out for us. Criminal activity is reduced in streets where cameras have been installed. Some systems can even speak to people, “Oi you – pick up that litter!”

Perhaps we find living in a CCTV society reassuring because we have lost the sense that God is constantly watching over us. This is a challenging thought. Just as CCTV cameras expose the wrongdoing of criminals, the all seeing God will hold us to account for our actions. But he has acted to remove our wrongdoing from his sight. That is why Jesus came to die in our place. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are adopted into God’s family. The Christian calls the great Creator “Father”. It is wonderful to know that God our Father is looking out for us at all times of the day and night. An impersonal CCTV camera is a poor God-substitute. One of my favourite Psalms is number 139, where David, revels in the knowledge that his life is lived under the loving gaze of God,

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
The biblical vision is not so much “Big Brother is watching you” as “God, my heavenly Father is watching over me.”
An edited version of Morning Thought from BBC Radio Wiltshire's Breakfast Programme.


Ben Myers said...

Thanks, Guy -- a beautiful post.

Guy Davies said...

Cheers, Ben!