On a rainy bank holiday jaunt today we came across a church in Kent that has a collection of Chagall stained glass. I've always liked Chagall - perhaps because he uses a lot of blue, or maybe because his work has that childlike fantasy quality - easily allowing you to just get lost in it and find your own meaning.
The tiny church was deserted and deathly silent, leaving us to explore on our own and stare undisturbed at the haunting images. Even though there wasn't much sun, the light captured and delivered the painting's intense colour through the glass.
To the side of the nave there was a table full of postcards, books, cds - which anyone could buy. It was all priced - but as the church was unattended you just had to put your cash in a little slot on the table. We couldn't believe that this merchandise just left out for anyone to possibly plunder. But then we realised this was insignificant compared to the invaluable art that was left unguarded - which, if in a gallery, would be under high security.
Churches are institutions of respect. We are all familiar with the code of conduct - silence, honesty, humble behaviour.
Our modern world revolves around one new institution - the internet. Still finding its place in our society, it lacks a strict code. Individuals behave in ways that they wouldn't do in the real world - in the anonymous web they can easily resort to antisocial behaviours like hiding behind pseudonyms, making irresponsible comments to others, and taking what they want without paying for it. But like the church the internet is largely unguarded. Perhaps in time we will grow to respect it and evolve a standard of behaviour - hopefully soon before the great freedom the internet is built upon is taken away.