Julie Hall: We reap the disinformation and distrust we have sown

How have we arrived at this moment and how can we move to something better?

(Jose Luis Magana | AP photo) U.S. Capitol Police push back demonstrators who were trying to enter the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6 in Washington.

Like so many other citizens across the nation, I was heartbroken and horrified to watch the recent violence and desecration at our nation’s Capitol by extremists.

There has been much discussion on social media about who is to blame for this insurrection. Was it Trump supporters fired up after a rally, or left-wing extremists capitalizing on the moment? Although I think it is important to bring these individuals to justice, debating the particular label or group they represent ignores a larger problem. What we should be discussing is this: How we arrived at this moment and how we can move forward to something better?

Currently, I spend my days as a mother and a farmer. In both of those endeavors I understand that I reap what I sow. The ideas, beliefs and attitudes I plant in my children — whether positive or negative — grow in them, sometimes in ways that shock and surprise me.

As a flower farmer I understand that the time and energy I put into cultivating good soil will have a significant impact on the quality of the plants I grow. And as a Christian I have been taught my whole life that we will know someone’s character “by their fruits.”

None of us should be surprised that the harvest of our current political climate and the divisive rhetoric of the last four years is violent insurrection and a weakened democracy. Retired general and former Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently wrote, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”

Our president and many of his colleagues have consistently sown seeds of disinformation, distrust, dehumanization and division, and we are reaping those fruits in the waning weeks of his administration. He has cultivated an environment in which conspiracy theories thrive and truth is smothered and we have allowed him to do it.

Every time we ignored his hateful rhetoric and pointed to the strength of the economy, every time we dismissed his personality because we liked his policies, every time we excused his impropriety in order to hold onto power, we allowed him to injure the integrity of our democracy and to create an environment in which extremism thrives.

I am grateful for Sen. Mitt Romney for consistently standing in opposition to the president’s divisive rhetoric, but more of our representatives in Congress should have joined him. The results of our president’s failed leadership and our collective complacency became evident as the Capitol was ransacked.

I believe the president should be held accountable for his role in the tragedy that occurred at the nation’s Capitol and the deaths that resulted. While I know that many of my friends and neighbors may disagree with me, I hope we can all agree that we want to grow something better than this.

And if we want to grow a stronger nation, we each have to engage in the hard work of weeding out hatred, white supremacy, extremism and division and begin to plant new seeds of unity, kindness, respect and civility — and require our elected officials to do the same.

Julie Hall

Julie Hall is a member of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, a writer, a mother and flower farmer. She lives in Mapleton.