From a Distance

The first thing that comes to my mind when I read the phrase “From a Distance” is the song sung by Bette Midler. The lyrics suggest (as does the phrase) that when we look at our world from afar, we see it with a different viewpoint to when we look at it close up. We see, for example, “snow capped mountains white” instead of the extreme cold and hardship it may bring to people. When we look at the world from afar, we see “harmony echo(ing) through the land”. Yet when we look closer, we see the seeds of discontent and the disharmony that exist among people.

When listening carefully to the lyrics that Bette Midler sings, one realises that the songwriter suggests one does not see the poverty, the fighting, the war, the disease, the hunger when looking at the world from afar:

From a distance
We all have enough
And no one is in need
And there are no guns, no bombs and no disease
No hungry mouths to feed
From a Distance
We are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope
Playing songs of peace
They are the songs of every man

In addition, the songwords suggest that people all have a common goal – the goal of peace, a goal that all strive for with the hope that it will be attained. But it is not only people who may look at the world “from a distance”. The chorus of the song is repeated a number of times:

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance

It is a chorus that suggests, not only that God has distanced Himself from humanity, but also that He is not seeing the world as it truly is. Instead of seeing war, He sees people striving for peace. Instead of seeing poverty and hunger, He sees that we all have enough. It is a message that suggests God does not see the reality that many are experiencing in their everyday lives. The words in the chorus  express a reason as to why God does not present Himself more in people’s lives; and why He does not intervene to prevent the suffering that so many experience.

I remember listening to this song on the radio and singing along with the chorus without ever really thinking of the song words. Reflecting on them now, I do not think I agree with the sentiment expressed by the songwriter – that God does not see the reality of the world as it is.

What do you think of the content of Bette Midler’s song “From a Distance”?

(Join Jake every week for a theme for creative inspiration. This week’s prompt is From A Distance)

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

38 thoughts on “From a Distance

    1. The answers will depend, I think on a person’s background and what they believe God to be. Many will believe God to be distant from his people, and others will say the opposite. And then philosophers may have another point of view! It is definitely something to think about.

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  1. I’ve been hearing this song in my head ever since I saw Jake’s theme for this week! At first I could not remember what exactly the song was or who sang it, I just remembered the phrase “from a distance.” Gradually it all came to me. Great post!

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    1. I know I do not as I believe God is distant from people and the world we live in. I believe he leaves the world as is because He has given us free choice and our choices have resulted in the world we live in, poverty and war included.

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  2. First thing that came to my mind, too, with that phrase.
    Yes, I think the cynical slant is theologically unsound. God by nature would have to be aware of everything on the closest possible basis – lack of intervention certainly cannot be due to vision distorted by distance.

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    1. I agree with you totally. A God who is all-seeing and all-knowing would be able to see the reality of the world as it is. Lack of intervention is caused, I believe, by the free will God has given man. By intervening in our world and changing our environment, He would take away the gift of free will that He gave us.

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  3. I think I’m a lot more simplistic, Colline, and I don’t interpret the lyric that way at all. It’s up to us what we make of this world, and we are responsible for what happens there. I don’t have any of the answers when it comes to God. I just wish that the world was a better place, for everybody.

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  4. You explained it well… We live in an unequal world where beauty is next to suffering. We can speak out about it or pretend everything is wonderful. Up to us. 😉

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  5. How nice to see you again dear Colline. I have missed you. You are welcome. I hope and wish you had a nice summer times. This is wonderful entry and I love this song, brings me my memories and I am singing now… Thank you, have a nice week, love, nia

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  6. I agree with restlessjo. We make the choices with what we’ve been given. As far as God’s part, who am I to question Him. He has His plan. I just do my part.

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  7. Interesting interpretations from the commenters! It is interesting to see how people view God. My thoughts…I think what the song is trying to convey is that we have everything we need to be at peace, to feed everyone, to sustain the planet, to get along and work together. God is watching because he has already given us everything we need. Now we need to pull it together or perish.

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    1. I agree Darlene. He has given it to us and now it is up to us to take it. He cannot force us to take His gift. Brings to mind the saying: you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

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