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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ash Wednesday

Remember, O man, that dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return!This is, at least in the traditional Catholic and Anglican versions, what priests say to Christians during the imposition of ashes (created from the previous year’s Palm Sunday fronds) on this first day of Lent. The line comes from God’s injunction to Adam and Eve in Genesis about the consequence of their disobedience, which is mortality.It’s not a bad time for all of us to devote a day to the remembrance of our mortality, individually and as a species. And recent months have represented fine times for the Grim Reaper, in places ranging from Darfur to Iraq to subsarahan Africa to New Orleans. It’s also not a bad time for everyone to take notice of our collective responsibility that could lead to a virtual suicide of the human race, such as our potentially catastrophic tampering with global climate patterns, and our tolerance of a renewed nuclear arms race across the breadth of Asia. As the economist John Maynard Keynes once famously said when arguing with some long-term prediction: “In the long run, we’ll all be dead.” That’s true, and aside from our particular convictions about a life beyond death, it’s why the best possible meditation on Ash Wednesday is on ways we can give hope to those who will succeed us in this life. I know that sounds like some liberal injunction to collectivism and to the idea of investments in the future. But it’s an entirely Biblical train of thought. You could look it up.

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