Bad web design and the hope of God

penny mulveyPENNY MULVEY

Humans are creatures of habit. We often go about our daily activities as if on a conveyor line. But sometimes a person, an event, some words on a page, will break through and stay with you. I like to think of it as a gift from God.

Reading The Age online early last month was one of those ‘aha’ moments. It was an article on the dark web by Fairfax journalist Peter Hartcher. He was describing how the concept of the internet began – not surprisingly – as a result of US military research.

He wrote: “In 1967… a prescient engineer warned of the danger of connecting computer networks… it would become impossible to protect anything connected to those networks.”

The article continued that the Pentagon took note of the warning and considered adding security features but, and here’s the kicker, “the net’s chief scientist ‘begged’ his superiors not to burden the project with such hindrances, and assured them that it’d take the Russians decades to catch up.” (‘The web belongs to the bad guys’, Hartcher, 4/7/17).

Stop for a minute and think, if that chief scientist was more future-focused, rather than on the immediate need to be first, on time and on budget, we might never know what the dark web is. The child sex trade, drugs trade, illegal arms trade, terrorist networks might not have been able to operate so easily in this hidden international network.

I felt a moment of anger towards this short-sighted chief scientist for the world that he had inadvertently created by his inability to take advice, and then stopped. I might not be managing decisions of such monumental importance, but how often do I go for the quick fix, the easy out, the short-term solution?

The Bible is littered with stories of men and women making rash decisions. Peter, who denied Jesus three times, cutting off the ear of the guard, comes to mind.

However, the God of the Bible is without time. God’s plans are eternal and, often, it is hindsight that reveals for us God’s hand in our lives.

Take Nehemiah, the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. God had placed him there in a place of extreme trust and influence to enable the rebuilding of Jerusalem. That was planning beyond human capacity.

In a world of the dark web, of subterfuge and dirty dealings, of human frailty and environmental degradation, I am grateful that God sent his son, Jesus, to give us eternal hope and grace. This hope enables me to live faithfully in this broken world.

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