Living in the wealthy West is all about having the luxury to tie yourself into knots about the ethical dilemmas that come your way.
Today I saw the quote that, for me and in a very simplistic way, swung it on the age-old question 'Should Madonna have adopted the little African baby'. Little David's father, who has been branded a simpleton by those who think he shouldn't have signed the child over, said: 'It is a blessing from God. He is so lucky, he will learn many things. I appeal to the self-styled lovers of David to leave my baby alone. Where were they when David didn't have milk when his mother died?' It's a good point, well made, you have to admit.
Later in thelondonpaper (yes, I'm still reading it and mostly happily), we read he of Ryanair, Michael o' Leary's throwaway comments about switching over to Fairtrade coffee, because it's cheaper than what they had before. 'We'd change to a non-Fairtrade brand in the morning if it was cheaper', he said in an open invite to all other bad coffee companies to bake a bid. As he probably intended, he wound up Greenpeace no end, who hate him for his low-cost flights around the world, fair-trade coffee or none.
I'm on a bit of a no-fly time at the moment, partly because I'm trying to use my money for other things (like no longer getting into debt) and partly because increasingly, we can do all our communication without having to fly across the world, even if it's not quite as nice as a hug. My friends drop in on Gmail from exciting places like Canada and Rwanda and I don't even have to leave the desk to find ou what the weather is like where they are. But you think I wouldn't be on that runway at the drop of a hat if someone offered to send me off to Dubai or Kigali tomorrow? I would you know.
Quakers in particular, and the poor deranged 'left' generally, are very good at arranging international conferences and then wringing their hands over the cost to the environment. We've always been a well travelled people (I write 'we' in the sense of someone descended from migratory Quakers) ever since George Fox trotted around Barbados and America to see how his followers were getting on being persecuted in warmer countries. They were on ships, of course, but I'm sure the odd moment was spent wondering whether they should be in their comfortable cabins while all the people being transported and enslaved were stuffed in below. Well, possibly one moment. I don't have a lot of time for such worrying, as whichever way you wring your hands you'll never reach a place where you're free of guilt.
What is clear is that we're lucky to have these choices at all. To be the child chosen by Madonna must seem something like winning the lottery and as with all such pieces of extreme luck, there are always downsides. I reckon little David will be able to afford to visit home and even, lo, move back there, should he so choose.
Ah, but. Later on still is a fine piece of vitriol lifted from the New York Post. Madonna, the monster, it says, is raping Malawi with her 'freakish slave auction' and should be crucified. Not metaphorically, no, *literally* nailed to a cross. Gosh, I obviously wasn't outraged enough. But since when did we think Madonna was responsibility for sorting out world problems? Why the anger at her, rather than all those politicians who actually keep this system of inequality going every year? Madonna wasn't at the Doha rounds last time I looked. Neither were the politicians, since the rich countries had a tantrum and shut it all down. Andrea Peyser's highly speculative article grudgingly says that Madonna has given $3 million to the orphanage that was David's home-before-Marylebone but that this 'may' lead to a Kaballah-based curriculum. Jesus. It's like the missionaries all over again. The money-bearing educating feeding religious bastards. On the other hand, we might get more balance if a few more atheists sauntered over there wielding their money and their belief systems but to be honest, I don't see much of that, unless you count Bill Gates, whose religion as far as I know is IT.
Isn't one of Angelina's pet children from Malawi? Didn't Prince Harry go there to help the little orphans? Or am I being stupid? I don't remember all this feather-spitting about them, whichever country it might have been. Surely people aren't really disappointed in Mad Madonna, having seen her strange sweary Live 8 performance and actually expected better? Honestly?
And on an entirely different note, related only to my train journey...
Breakthrough! Finally one of the new Killers tracks strikes a chord. I knew it would get there in the end. Lovely.
Postscript. So at the end of a slightly delayed journey, Warhorse and I shoot down the newly finished shiny freeway (not really called a freeway in Britain) known as the A500. A wonder of technical achievement, by Stoke standards anyway. On our street, in contrast, they have spent at least two weeks installing one brand new streetlight per person – and only switched one of them on. So we have a pitch-black street, lit only by the silvery reflections of a forest of useless lamp-posts.