PS Cast: Trust and Security

A heartfelt plea that we stop locking everything.
Listen with rapt awe to my five thousand word ramble on Trust and Security.

[Harmonic vocal intro]
Good evening and welcome to another Paul Spooner Podcast. I’m not going to be able to talk in this dulcet tone any more! So! Here I am speaking once more with force! Because if I speak dulcetly then you won’t be able to hear me over the sound of the car rushing through the air as I traverse the surface of the planet on my way home from work.

I think we should, as a culture, stop locking things. It just seems really counter-poroductive! I know there are reasons for why we lock things. It makes people feel better. But I don’t think it actually helps people overall. So, you’ve got a lock on your car, and your house, and probably on your computer (there’s a password to get onto your computer). There’s locks on all kinds of things. But the thing is about locks (and security in general) is that security makes things harder.

It makes things harder for everyone.

The point of “good” security is to make things much harder for people that you don’t want accessing stuff, and only slightly harder for people that you do want accessing or modifying things. What I’m objecting to, I suppose, is the whole idea that security is important and needs to be widespread.

So, a lock deters access. If your car had no locks, you would never have to unlock it, and you would never have to lock it. And you spend time doing these things! You spend time locking and unlocking things. It’s effort that is spent, that could be spent on something else. Now, someone who does not have a key has to spend a lot more effort to get access to something, but they can still get access to it. It’s just more work.

However, if you loose your key (as I’m sure almost all of you have at some point) or misplace it, then you are just as inconvenienced as someone who does not have a key to begin with (someone who is not supposed to have access). And so, suddenly, all of your security is working against you, if you loose that key. The same thing with a password, if you forget your password all your security is working against you, and treating you like you are an intruder. Which is what you asked it to do! I mean, there’s no other way for it to do it.

So you can make security less secure, like a key code. And then if someone knows the code they can enter it in, or they can brute force it. Or you can have something that looks like a lock but isn’t really a lock, so if someone tries to unlock it they will find that it is in fact not a lock. So there are ways to make it less secure, but of course then it’s less inconvenient for someone who is not supposed to have access, whom you do not want to have access to your things.

There are some things, I will conceed, that seem like they probably do need security. Things that are really dangerous and in public places. Maybe things like electrical panels, where if someone could get into it they could get seriously injured. Or if children could get into it they could get seriously injured. Although, even in that case, you can have a system that is inconvenient to open but not secure in the sense that it’s designed to keep people out who are not supposed to have access to it. Because, again, security inconveniences everyone!

So I think this idea of widespread universal security is misplaced, and I’m going to make a couple of arguments. The first of which is that, of the people that are inconvenienced by security, the people who are supposed to have access to it are arguably the most inconvenienced.

If I’ve got my computer, I use it every day. I type in my password every day. Sometimes twice a day or three times a day, sometimes more. So that’s, I don’t know, maybe five seconds I spend typing in a password. And then I have to hit the Ctrl+Alt+Del to unlock the screen (I use windows) and so I’ve got to go through this rigmarole to get it unlocked. And this is a work computer, I can’t just turn it (the security features) off, I’m supposed to have this lock on it, it’s company policy. But how many people have tried to access my computer without my permission? Like, how many have tried to get in (or would have tried? I mean, because you can’t just… that’s not really fair, you can’t just say “How many people have tried?” Because if they know that it’s locked, they won’t try, because they know that it’s a lot of a hassle to get in). But how many people would have tried to gain access to my computer if it had not been locked? I don’t know! I can’t think of any time or anyone or anywhere where that would be the case, where someone would have access to my computer physically, but I would not want them to have access to it digitally. It hasn’t happened ever as far as I know.

And of course you could make the argument that someone might have stolen it if they had known that it was unlocked and easy to access. But it really seems like that’s never. So, so far we’ve got me spending, we’ll say like, half a minute every day… every day. That’s time I could spend elsewhere, not even, well, and it’s also time I spend managing it! So I have to manage my password, I have to remember my password. Now, I have a fairly good memory. I don’t write my password down, I’ve got a different password for all my different websites, and all these different logins. So I do practice good security. But it makes me wonder, “Is it really worth it?” Because I’m being highly inconvenienced! I spend a not insignificant portion of my time unlocking things when… who am I keeping out?

I’m keeping myself out.

And this may not (again) be true of all cases of security but I think that a lot of cases where we apply security, we apply locks to things, we’re really just hurting ourselves. We are, as the user, as the intended user, injuring ourselves! Spending our time, wasting it locking and unlocking things over and over and over again. When I’m at home, when I’m back in my house in Washington, I don’t ever lock the doors. Now, my wife likes to lock the doors, but I don’t lock them. I don’t lock my car. And I don’t lock my car here in Japan either. I’ve not locked my car for years and years now. I’ve never had anything stolen out of my car, I’ve never had it broken into.

Now, the car is an interesting case because, if you have a key that you need to operate the car then it’s going to be difficult for someone to steal your car. Now you could leave valuables in your car, I don’t. I don’t carry valuables with me. I don’t have a lot of stuff that’s really valuable. I don’t have a tablet PC or fancy sunglasses, or I don’t know. I’m not sure what people would steal out of a car… a fancy tape player or something? I don’t have any of that stuff. So there’s really nothing for a thief to steal out of my car. I mean, as far as I’m aware. So, maybe it’s not surprising. All the time I would have spent locking and unlocking it, I just leave it unlocked. That’s what I was going to say.

A car is an interesting case because if you lock it and someone wants to gain access to the inside of your car… they can always just break the window. It’s very very easy. Maybe it makes a loud noise. Maybe there’s a security system on your car, but (again) security systems on the car are designed to inconvenience people, and because of this people have grown incredibly unaware of them. People try not to be inconvenienced, and so if a car alarm goes off, how many people do you see even looking in that direction? If they see someone, maybe they would call the police? If they see someone breaking a car window and reaching in and grabbing stuff. But if you’re any kind of competent thief, you would break the car window very calmly, and if someone comes up and ask you what you are doing, you’d say “Oh, this is my car, I locked my keys in my car and I’m trying to find them.” and it’s like “Oh, okay, fine whatever.” or “I forgot my purse” because what are you going to go in there and grab? You’re going to grab a purse? Fine. “My wife needs her purse and we locked our keys in our car, we’ll fix it later, it’s no big deal.” and there you go, problem solved. No one is going to report you for that. And so it’s really trivial to defeat this kind of security, car security, when you can just break a window and get in. Same thing with a house. You can always just break a window and get into the house. The best security is having it inhabited. Having people there all the time. Using your car regularly. That’s the best security. And you don’t need a lock for that. You don’t need a key for that. You don’t need to keep it locked.

So I don’t lock my car because, honestly, I would rather them steal anything in the car than break a window. A broken window is going to be more expensive for me to repair than anything that they could steal out of my car. So I just don’t lock it! My house? I don’t lock my house. I mean, it’s inhabited, there are people living there. If someone wanted to get into my house they could always just come in through a window and what am I going to do about it? Nothing! I’m not going to be able to do anything about it. So I just leave it unlocked.

I would, I don’t know if I would leave my computer unlocked. A computer is an interesting case because it’s very easy for people to gain access to it, over the internet. And so, security there, ahh, well, it might make sense. But again, I do spend a great deal of my time locking and unlocking things. Well, not a great deal of my time, but a not insignificant portion. I won’t say it’s significant, necessarily, but it’s not insignificant. It’s, you know, half a minute to a minute a day, and that adds up.

Especially if it’s to do something that I don’t want to do anyway in the first place. I’m not interested in keeping people out! I’m trying to do things that people like, that people want to have access to! I release a great deal of stuff online for free. You’re listening to this webcast for free. So it’s not like I’ve got secrets that I need to hide from people. And maybe that’s another kind of thing that I object to in our culture, about patents and copyrights and secrets and people keeping secrets. And then it seems like (and I don’t know if this is the case or not but) it seems like the people that keep the most secrets, that have the most stringent rules about what you’re allowed to discuss and talk about and release and not release, also spend a great amount of time on publicity! So they’re trying to keep secrets, and then they spend a bunch of money to keep these people from knowing about it and people from finding out about the things they’re doing, and then they spend a huge amount of money trying to get people to notice what they’re doing and trying to get the people… it’s just, it’s wasted effort both ways. I would rather people know what I’m doing and be interested in what I’m doing, and if they’re not interested that’s fine, they can go do something else!

So, security. It seems to inconvenience the person who is employing it the most. And thieves, and people who would break in, it seems like they are not a great deal inconvenienced by security, proportionately.

The other one [the second point] is more of a philosophical, or a religious perspective on it, but there is a scripture… A saying that Christ said, which has made me ponder things. It’s very challenging. He says “If someone asks you for your coat, give it to them, and give them your garment as well. If someone forces you to go with them one mile, go with them two miles.” And I’ve meditated on this for a long time, and I can’t really find any other meaning except that he’s trying to say that security is not good.

If I were to give someone my coat if they asked me for it, then why would I lock it up? It just seems like locking it up means that I’m saying that they can’t have it if they want it. And maybe I’m miss-reading this? Maybe I’m miss-interpreting it? But it kind of seems like what He’s saying is “Give people what they want. Don’t hold stuff back from people.” Because… And I’m not sure why he says that, but the meaning behind it seems to be that He’s saying, “Let people have their way with you.”

“Let people have their way with you.”

That sounds very dangerous! But, that’s what Our Lord said. So… Ahh… I’m very loth to disagree with it.

And so, this kind of seems to apply to cars. This is why I started leaving my car unlocked. Because, here’s my reasoning. I was thinking, “Well, okay, if someone asked me for my coat, or my… to go with them. If someone asked me to go with them for a mile, that seems to be traveling, right? Like, going somewhere, using up my time traveling with them somewhere. It seems like what it means is that you should be willing to do what people ask. So if someone asked me for my car keys, should I give them to them? It seems like the principle applies here! What should we withhold from people if they ask? And it also says “Ask and you shall receive. Ask and it will be given to you.” So it seems to be a principle that when people ask for things, they get them, and we are supposed to, as Christians, uphold that principle, so, if I were to have my car keys with me, and someone’s like “hey give me your car keys, I want to take your car somewhere.” I feel like I should do that? I mean, it seems like that’s what He’s saying.

And maybe, and again, I don’t leave the keys in the ignition… very often. Sometimes I do by accident, but not very often. I don’t intentionally do that… but maybe I should? I don’t know! See? I don’t know! It’s very… it’s a very challenging… it’s very challenging to be like “Okay, what does this mean? To own things? To posses something? What do our possessions mean? Does it mean that we’re supposed to…” And we’re supposed to be good stewards of our possessions, but does that mean that we keep people from using them? Or keep people from using them that we think are irresponsible? Or keep people from using them when their use of them would inconvenience us?

And maybe that’s where I would draw the line. Maybe I would be willing to give someone my car keys if they were like, “Hey, I need to use your car” And I’d be like, “Okay, here… here you go.” But if someone was like, “Hey, you know, my three year old kid wants to drive your car, give me the car keys.” I’d be like, well, that… that’s irresponsible of me. Because I think of this two year old or three year old child would damage the vehicle, and maybe themselves, and hurt other people. That would be an irresponsible action of me to give access to this very potent tool to someone who is probably (and I can’t say with certainty) but probably incompetent in using it. So… Ahh, I don’t know.

I don’t leave my car keys in the car, but I don’t lock my car.

So that’s kind of where I’m at right now. Maybe I should leave my car keys in the car? Maybe I should lock my car! I don’t know. But, I’ve been challenged by that scripture. And I feel like a lot of people hear it and they’re like, “Huh. That’s a strange thing to say Jesus. Why did you say that?” and then forget about it. I… Ahh! That’s very dangerous! I mean, this is God! He told us something! It’s important! There’s got to be a reason for it! So…

So I think security is over-rated in general. I think, to the extent that we employ it in modern society, it’s probably overboard. I think we go overboard in making our things secure and locking everything and having access codes for everything. And I also think that the Holy Spirit does not sit right with “security”. And that’s, I mean, the second point, of course, is going to be a more contentious one but it’s… hmm.

I would encourage you, not to leave your car unlocked necessarily, but at least to consider it, and to think about what it means when you lock your car, and who you’re really inconveniencing, and why.

There are a number of devices that we don’t have locked. We don’t lock our cabinets. And we have children. We’ve got several small children, toddlers and crawling around babies. We don’t lock our cabinets. We don’t lock away our pharmaceuticals. We don’t do any of that stuff. We train our children (and of course you’ve heard my rant about child training) but we train our children to not do things that would hurt them or hurt others and I think that’s probably more beneficial on the whole, is training people instead of locking things.

So maybe it would even be a good idea to unlock electrical cabinets and power panels and things of this nature that could injure someone, you know, if they want access to it, they’re probably going to get access to it, it’s probably going to be okay, they know what they’re doing. I have, very rarely (and maybe this is the kind of company I keep, or I don’t know, but) I have very rarely encountered a situation where a lock was demonstrated to have a beneficial effect, in my mind. It’s always been something where a person needed access to something and it was locked and so then they had to go out of their way to find how to unlock it, or to get a key or something like this. It’s always an inconvenience to someone, and it seems like if you’re going to go around opening electrical cabinets and sticking your fingers in there, maybe you should just get electrocuted? And maybe that’s heartless of me to say, but I don’t think so. I think that if we really need locks on something, I’m thinking about things wrong. It seems like they are unnecessary.

And maybe you say “But thieves would run rampant and steal stuff.” and yes! Thieves do steal stuff! And, I mean, what do you propose to do about that? Because thieves are very very good at getting around locks! I’ve never ever seen a lock that could not be defeated by even a marginally stalwart opponent. Maybe that’s my mechanical sense and cryptological sense that I feel like I am capable of getting around locks, but it seems like if you’re a marginally clever person, and don’t have anything better to do, you could get around almost any lock without a great deal of effort. It seems like misplaced effort.

And misplaced trust.

Because it seems like people trust their locks to keep them safe.

And, I would… I mean, that’s another interesting topic! Trust! In the scriptures (and of course this is going to go into complete religious ground, but) in the scriptures I was, and I forget the occasion, but there was some occasion in the past when I was struggling with the idea of trust, and who should you trust and for what and to what end? Should I trust my parents? Should I trust the government? Or should I trust my friends, or not? Should I trust myself? And I was kind of really thinking about this idea of “trust”. And so I was like, I’ll just go to the scriptures, and get a good thesaurus (EDITORS NOTE: I meant “concordance” here, but oh well.) and read every passage that has the word “trust” in it. Do a word study.

So I did!

I did a word study. And there’s four hundred some-odd passages that contain the word “trust” in the translation I looked up. I didn’t go into the original Greek or anything. But I did a word study. And it turns out that, of the locations that “trust” was used in, there was only one location in the entirety of scripture (that I could find. And maybe I misinterpereted, I mean, this was a while ago too, so I… maybe… this could be my own false interperetation, but) there was only one location, in the entirety of scripture, that I could find that was a positive example of trust that was placed in something other than God.

So, basically, the Scripture’s stance is “Nothing is trustworthy except for God.”

With the one exemption being that, in Proverbs 31, it says that the husband of a Godly woman “puts his trust in her.” And it doesn’t say if that’s misplaced or not, but that’s generally a very bountiful passage, full of thumbs-up-all-around, so it seems like that is an approval of that method. But of course it doesn’t say for sure, but it doesn’t say that it’s bad. All the other scriptures that I found (with that exception) had either trust saying “Trust in God and it’s going to be all right. It’s going to turn out okay.” Or had the meaning of “Why on Earth would you trust in X?” Where “X” was a non-God object. Usually it was your own wisdom or man. And man of course could be applied to your own wisdom as well. So basically there are three things that you can trust, according to the Scriptures. You can trust God (which is a good idea). You can trust man (which is humankind or human anything, which is a bad idea). And then you can trust your wife (and if she’s a godly woman, that might be okay).

So I found that very enlightening! And very freeing as well. Because then I could be like “Oh. I don’t trust anyone. I don’t trust anyone! Oh! Well! That’s… that’s great!” I mean, now I can scrutinize everyone and everything! And I really enjoy that, I really enjoy scrutinizing things and being distrustful. It’s something that I find exercises my mental faculties and my ability to reason.

And so I just distrust everyone now . I do not trust anyone. Um… with the possible exception of my wife. Sometimes I trust her, she’s not perfect, so I feel that I’m not held to perfectly follow the Scripture’s encouragement there to put my trust in her, but she’s getting there, and I’m trusting her more and more over the years. But everyone else? No. I don’t trust anyone.

Except for God. I trust God.

And you can really really trust God. For everything! You can trust God.

So, I think that, then, coming back to Security. Security is something that people put their trust in. They trust in security to keep them safe. To keep the things that they value safe. They put their heart in these things (they treasure them, and that’s where their heart is) and so they lock them up with the idea that this will make it secure. This will make it safe. This will make it alright for them to trust it.

But it’s not! That’s materialism. That’s idolatry.

So, I would encourage you, as a human being, to think about the amount of time and effort you spend locking and securing things that could be better spent doing something else. Because, as far as I can tell, people aren’t out to get you and people aren’t out to steal your stuff. Occasionally it does happen, yes. But it’s so rare that, often, it’s just easier to get a new one than it is to spend all your time locking it and worrying about whether someone’s gotten it.

And I would encourage you as a Christian to think about what you trust. And I mean, don’t take my word for it, the Scripture is right there, do a word study! Find out what “trust” really means in the Scriptures and where you should place it, and, so, yeah! So I don’t leave my keys in my car, but I don’t trust in my car to get me somewhere, or to be something. I use it, it’s a tool, and I have the keys with me so that I can use it, but I think that (and I’m not saying that I would do this necessarily. I hope I would, but) I think that Christ’s instruction to give people what they want when they ask for it is good, and I think that we should strive to do that more.

Because, really, there’s a great example in the scripture of Abraham where he dug (he and his servants) dug a well in this land that they were living in. And digging a well is hard work! You can’t just take a couple shovel-full of dirt and “Hey presto a well!” It’s a giant pit, you’ve got to line the whole thing. It’s very difficult to do this. It’s a real output of labor.

So you would think that, okay, well, you’re going to lock your well then! So that people can’t poison it, so people can’t sully it. You put some sort of building over this well so that you can’t get into it. But Abraham did something very interesting. He dug the well, and then the neighbors said… basically they said “give us the well” and Abraham said, instead of “No, I dug this well!” … I mean, he did, and there was some dispute. But eventually Abraham was like “You know what? Fine. You can have it. Take the well.” and he picked up all his stuff and he went somewhere else. And he gave them the well. And this happened, ahh, and I could be wrong on this, but I think three or four times! (EDITOR’S NOTE: I was thinking of Genesis 26. It was actually Isaac, and he re-dug three wells which had previously been dug by his father Abraham, and were subsequently filled in by the Philistines. (Get it? Fill-istines?)) Maybe the third time he dug the well and he didn’t get driven off. Or maybe it was the fourth well? I forget. But numerous… more than once he dug a well, he and his servants, and someone said “give us the well” and he was like “Okay.” And, I mean, not completely without complaining or fighting, I think it said they quarreled about it.

And it turned out okay! He finally dug a well and no one wanted it except for him. And then it was his well. And then it was really his well, because no one else wanted it! You don’t have to lock it if no one else wants it! It’s really yours! And so, ahh, it was just this, it was a really positive encouraging example of a Godly man who didn’t lock things. Who was willing to give things, even valuable things, away. I mean, digging a well is no light task. And he gave it away, basically for free, because someone asked for it. And I think that’s a good example for us. And I think Christ’s implication of His teaching. The implication is the same as the story of the wells. Something you have might be very valuable, it might be incredibly dear to you, it might have cost you dearly. But, someone else asks you for it, you can just give it away. It’s okay, it’s going to be alright.

Because you can trust God. God would not let that person ask you for it if you really needed it. And I’ve never run into a situation, in my whole life, where someone has asked me for something that I really could not live without. So I encourage you, as a Christian, to consider the scriptures and what it says about trust and about belongings and things. We do have belongings and we do have possessions. And I think the Scripture doesn’t say, you know, you have to do it without objection, you have to do it without talking to them about it. I think we can ask people “Why do you want this?” or “Is it really necessary? Can we do something else?” or “How about if I did this…” We can talk to people and communicate, certainly.

Um, but I think the idea still stands that if someone is like “Hey! I need that!” Uh, give it to them! I mean, what do you have to loose? Nothing! You don’t have to loose anything, because you don’t own anything! It’s all God’s.

So, trust God, don’t lock your stuff, and it will all be okay.

I have been Paul Spooner, this is the Paul Spooner Podcast. Thanks for joining me on this beautiful drive. I am going to stop talking now because it is hot in the car and I want to roll the windows down but that would make wind noise and then I wouldn’t be able to talk to you, so, have a great evening, and I’ll talk to you later.

Thanks so much again! This is Paul Spooner, and allow me to play you out!

[some sort of song thing]

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