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I am still mulling over the sufficiency conversation I was into this last weekend. I don’t know quite why it happened, but I got this vision of two words: being and bling. No two distinctions could be much farther apart in conveying a sense of what we humans have available to us as possibilities, but the only thing that distinguishes them in print is the letter “L,” instead of “E.” I found this definition of bling via a web search. It would be hard to find another pair of words where the substitution of a single letter would make such a difference in meaning.

The word “bling” refers to any unnecessary accumulation of metal or jewellery (sic) which impresses the simple-minded. Examples of bling-related activity include: driving a car with shiny platinum rims, arriving at a movie premiere in a hat made of glittering diamonds, or pointing at a big block of gold and cooing away for hours on end like an unforgivable moron whose mere existence ultimately cheapens us all. Bling is the single most shallow, boring and willfully superficial cultural phenomenon ever to excite humankind, which is saying something for a species already hooked on internet poker.

Being takes us to the other end of the existential spectrum and to the possibility of leading an authentic life. Only in authenticity can one find satisfaction with what one has. It is only there where the clamor of the cultural voices pressing you to buy more, and especially, more things that literally or metaphorically shine or glitter, can be silenced. In authentic being, sufficiency make sense, as the world opens up as a space for care and love, rather than only as a huge supermarket or mall exerting an irresistible pull. By now, my readers should know which of these carries sustainability, the possibility of flourishing.

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