By Tom Ehrich

Here's a question. Not exactly a burning question, like dealing with Ebola. But a question that illuminates.

Will the phablet kill the tablet? Will the tablet kill the laptop? Has the laptop already killed the desktop PC?

This is a great example of what thinkers mean by an "economy of scarcity." If you could have only one device, what would it be? If you could have only one food at dinner, what would it be? Or one user of the Colorado River? Or one way of defining marriage?

In some parts of the world, that is a real question. One device is all that many can afford. One way of thinking is all that their cultures will allow. Diversity, complexity and multiplicity aren't real options at this time.

In other parts, people can afford two, three or all four devices. Thanks to advanced education (as well as adequate nutrition and childhood stimulation), they can hold competing ideas in their heads, imagine multiple ways of doing the same thing (such as forming a life-partnership), consider pluralism as a faithful approach to God.

The difference between scarcity and abundance can be manipulated and used as a weapon, as when people reach for an artificial singularity -- such as assumed limits on the love of God -- and seek to impose it on others.

For the most part, though, scarcity is simply a reality for many people. They can't choose between meat or vegan. They are lucky to have any food at all. Choices and abundance go hand in hand.

Thus, I look at my desk, and I see four devices -- iPhone 6 Plus, iPad, MacBook Air and iMac -- each serving purposes that it alone does best.

I could use the iPhone for everything. Some do. But I don't have to make that choice.

And that, as much as anything, defines "First World." I am free to make choices.

I don't claim extra credit for having that freedom or these choices. I just need to be grateful for them and to make them as wisely as I can. I need to defend others' freedom to choose. And whenever possible, I need to choose less so that others can choose enough.

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