What an obscenity it is that so many people should be dying of hunger in the Horn of Africa. How nonsensical that cholera should be rife in Zimbabwe. What a contrast with the lives of comfort and ease that we live. As we drove home tonight, the profound darkness of the hills pressing around the narrow ribbon of road from Colintraive to Dunoon, I was reflecting on the strands of transport and amenity that contribute to our lives here - not lives of overt splendour and extravagance, but unimaginably richer than that lived by thousands who also inhabit the 21st century.
And how unequipped most of us are to deal with a more basic existence! With gas fires blocking chimneys and hearths, electric ovens susceptible to power failure, a freezer full of food that would last only hours before spoiling ... what would we do if our complex world crumbled?
I can't help thinking of the demands we in the West make on the world, and of the Malthusian checks of old. Not a comfortable thought for a cold night.