A young sea gull recently found itself trapped in the courtyard/rock garden at Cony High and Middle School. The library (I’m the librarian for the district) faces onto the courtyard, and we’ve seen this happen before. The prevailing wisdom is that the birds can’t get enough “lift” to fly out of the enclosed space. In the past, game wardens have had to come to rescue them.

I went to look at this guy, whom I immediately dubbed “Bob.” He was sitting on the outside sill of one of the tall, narrow library windows. Bob was looking up and around with a curious expression in his eyes. After owning chickens for several years, I’ve come to understand that birds have specific, albeit limited, characters. This lad was bright.

Bob looked as though he was trying to figure out where he was. This was not a situation he had been in before. I wished I could explain to him that he was in a kind of box, and he had to propel himself high to get out of it.

As I walked over to the office to see about getting help, I realized that, lately, I’ve often felt exactly the same way. Our crazy political environment, our debased society, have pushed us into a strange and unfamiliar place. Will we find a way to rise above it?

Earlier this year, I wrote a column suggesting that if Americans want a preview of how Donald Trump would govern, they could look at our governor, Paul LePage. Yes, “As Maine goes, so goes the nation.”

Now the governor has outdone himself. Not only has he repeated his assertions that people of color are responsible for the opioid epidemic that is ravaging Maine, but he left a disgusting voice mail for a legislator he thought had called him a racist. LePage used obscenities and told the legislator, “I am after you.”

This is the low road. LePage, like Donald Trump, has a tin ear when it comes to sensitivity and tolerance. They don’t understand why it’s racist to single out minorities. It’s not that hard — racism is simply stereotyping people based on their race. If you don’t get that, you don’t belong in public office.

LePage, like Trump, thinks that “telling it like it is” is what the people want. They won’t be constrained by political correctness. They aren’t going to pussyfoot around. Real men curse!

While it’s true that their bluster attracts a certain type of voter, what they are doing is pandering to the lowest common denominator. No decent-minded person would consider talking the way Trump and LePage do when they are trying to rouse the rabble.

Anyway, there aren’t too many defenders left in the house when you do something as egregious as LePage has done. Threatening a legislator? It doesn’t really matter if he called you a racist; your response was inappropriate. In any case, don’t you think you could have checked first, to determine exactly what the legislator did say?

Both Trump and LePage are blunt. They don’t stop to consider that every action has a reaction. You can’t go around saying hurtful things, stupid things, untrue things without repercussions. Not every victim is going to lie down and take it.

So this is where we are. Like Bob, we are in our box by choice. We are here because of our actions, or non-actions. Though we are confused by our predicament, we do have the option of escape.

When I came back to the library after arranging for a Bob rescue operation, I learned the young gull had managed to fly away. He is the first of his kind to flee the Cony courtyard unaided. I knew he could do it!

Bob apparently figured out what he needed to do when he saw a group of his fellow gulls flying free overhead. That’s the sky, I bet he thought. That’s where I need to be. And so, he somehow managed to defy the laws of aerodynamics and soar into the air.

Our world is not a happy place. It may be hard for us to look around and say, “That’s where we need to be.” But perhaps we can take a page from Britain’s book. All David Cameron did was lead a failed but honorable campaign to keep the U.K. in the European Union. No nastygrams. No temper tantrums. No talk of building walls. Yet when he lost, he resigned.

That’s what I call taking the high road. To find it, just channel Bob.

Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.