You might recall that January was named after Janus, the ancient Roman god associated with beginnings. He was often depicted with two faces so he could look both ahead and behind in time.
Last Wednesday was a day when it might have felt as if we were looking both ahead and behind in time. The day began with the news that both Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff were victorious in Georgia. With the U.S. Senate going to Democratic hands, national climate legislation at last becomes possible.
Only a few hours later we saw images of the U.S. Capitol, where Joe Biden’s victory was being formalized, invaded by a violent mob churned by Donald Trump’s near-delusional rants.
If Janus is to be believed, which event presages the future, and which is from the past? Are we facing more chaos, or do we have a real path to a greener future?
Let’s not lose sight of the success in Georgia. Even here in Humboldt, many people worked hard for the Democrats’ campaigns, and the narrow victory margins show that without nationwide support they wouldn’t have won.
With a 50-50 tie, Democrats will control the Senate only because they’ll have Vice President Kamala Harris to cast deciding votes. It’s the slimmest of margins, and that can only bolster the anxiety Trump’s mob engenders.
To get some perspective, even after a moderately close presidential election (see this for comparisons from past elections), a poll conducted on January 7-8 found 57% of Americans wanted Trump removed from office immediately. But 12% actually expressed support for the attack on the Capitol Building! On a similar issue, an NPR poll found 17% agreed with the QAnon cult that a group of Satanic pedophiles run American politics. (The good news in that poll was 69% agreement that humans are causing climate change.)
The Capitol Building mob won’t win many elections, but it’s shocking that one out of six Americans agree with QAnon. It’s likely that in this pandemic, many people are stressed out and depressed, broke or out of work and with way too much time on their hands. Some of them may be just one wacky post away from storming the Capitol.
We can’t know the future, but what we saw last week highlights the importance of 350.org‘s focus on equity in making the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. We can’t inadvertently victimize people through our work. Given the need to act quickly to reduce emissions, it’s a tough balancing act. But we have to ensure that workers can move into sustainable jobs, and the public in general can afford the changes that will be needed to decarbonize the economy.
On a different note, here’s a few 350 Humboldt events we want you to know about:
Our next General Meeting on Zoom will be Thursday, January 28, at 6 PM. (We’re changing our meetings to the fourth Thursday of the month.) We’ll send you the link in a separate email.
Coming up on Monday, February 1, at 7 PM, Rabbi Naomi Steinberg will speak on the connections between our work and the process of spiritual transformation in a 350 Humboldt Zoom presentation, Tikun Olam and Tikun Nefesh: Restoring the World and Restoring the Soul. You can register on our Action Network page.
Pat Carr for 350 Humboldt