“That which is whispered in the bedroom will be shouted from the housetops.” It’s in the Bible somewhere, but I couldn’t find it this evening. Anyway. everyone has things they want to keep secret, and everyone else is eager to ferret out the secrets of others. From personal secrets to family secrets to national security secrets, the keeping of secrets and the discovery of secrets is a human activity of high intensity.

The latest disclosure by an intelligence contractor of the NSA has everyone in a furor, and for good reason. Disclosure of national intelligence information, if it even hints at the sources, gets people killed and destroys intelligence gathering networks that were years in the making. This furor though is over electronic eavesdropping on the citizenry at large. In a way it seems to me that the intrusion into the minutiae of our day to day lives by social media networks, commercial data gatherers, and the government, is doing nothing more than returning us to the reality of what life was like in small communities before transportation in anything faster than a horse and buggy. Back then, in small towns, and the neighborhoods of cities, everyone knew each other and had for years. You knew whom to trust, whom to count on, whom to avoid, whom to pity, whom to help and so forth because you knew them, really knew them. Your mother probably knew their mother. When a stranger came to town, everyone knew it, and the immediate reaction was suspicion which lasted until there was proven reason for acceptance. Then came the auto and all that followed. And a new phenomenon – anonymity. The degree of anonymity to which we have become accustomed may be a new phenomenon in human history, and has been encouraged and sustained by mobility technology. Now technology is being employed to tear it away. Surveillance cameras are the new eyes of your neighbors rocking on the porch or looking out the kitchen window. I’m not sure it is a bad thing. The cover of anonymity has allowed some really terrible people to do some really terrible things.

Oh, I did find the quote. Luke 12:3. Here’s the NIV version. “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Good ol’ Google. It came through where my Strong’s Concordance failed me.

Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC, 11-June-2013.

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One Response to Secrets

  1. bob Witten says:

    Thank you, Ron. I really like your perspective on this. I can see my Mother huddling with neighbors when “something was not right” in the neighbolrhood. I would only say that in that day, all the neighbors knew about and appreciated their common information gathering work. In the case of the NSA, only they knew. We didn’t and therein lies my outrage and the outrage of millions.

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