I am very fond of Daniel Silva’s thrillers, about his Hero, Israeli Intelligence Operative (and now head honcho), Gabriel Allon. Gabriel has worked tirelessly for his country, eliminating terrorists of every stripe, all over the world. His first wife, Leah, who for years has lived in a psychiatric hospital in Israel, was made insane by the terrorist bomb (see A Death in Vienna) that killed his son, Danny, was sane enough to grant him a divorce a few years ago. Shortly thereafter, he was able to marry Chiara, his fellow intelligence operative. They are now proud parents of twins, a boy and a girl (see Black Widow).
All through Silva’s novels, the reader is reminded how dangerous the profession of Intelligence Operative (spy) is. A spy’s enemies are literally everywhere, following his or her every move, and plotting ways to put him or her out of action. Gabriel Allon was pretty much a ghost for a long time, his movements fairly cleverly concealed by his home Office, and his attempts to stay out of the public eye. His actions of terrorist elimination were observable. Once he is exposed, and his picture is splashed all over the press, it becomes more difficult for him to work.
I have been giving a lot of thought lately to a spy’s children. Once he is known, it becomes much more difficult for him to conceal his and his family’s whereabouts and actions. In fact, if he and his wife choose to become parents, they are putting innocent people at risk. But having children is a primal human need, and it must be a very delicate decision to make, whether to have those children, ensuring your name and memories survive you, or to decline based on the danger to everyone involved. The thing that makes a spy’s children a dangerous proposition is the fact that his enemies don’t have to kill him to put him out of action. They can just go after his family. Gabriel now doesn’t just have to worry about his terrorist enemies trying to find and kill him, and bomb or otherwise attack his country. He must worry, 24/7, about the safety of his wife and children, who now are prime targets.
I learned, actually, from the movie The Godfather, how easy it is to drive your enemy insane. Just go after what they love, and you don’t even have to get them (remember the scene with the horse’s head in the bed-gruesome). Gabriel Allon is fortunate that his wife is also an intelligence operative, and can use her own considerable wiles to protect their children from harm. But it must be very difficult to be in that situation, where you pretty much cannot ever relax, ever. You must be vigilant and observant all the time to protect the children from all the bad people out there, just waiting to pounce. They all now live in Israel, whose defense services are legendary. But you and I have read the news stories of the continuous attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians by the ubiquitous Arab terrorists, many of whom live in Israel.
So think about it. If you were an intelligence operative, would you have children? I think it’s a case of “choosing life”. You would, because of God’s Commandment to Choose Life. Life will always conquer Death.