Note: After publication, it came to our attention we published Shlomit’s notes rather than her weekly column. Read on for the correct Aug. 25 Letter From Away.

Somewhere in the 1970s, the phrase “personal responsibility” hit the airwaves, big time. At some point, it came from the readable lips of George Herbert Walker Bush, or maybe Ronald Reagan. It was a way of saying, we must bear the weight of our own actions.

Personal responsibility was joined by “tough love,” a term often associated with a method for instilling discipline in recalcitrant or volatile children. In politics, personal responsibility held hands with tough love, standing upright in our lives, telling us for our own good that there was no free ride.

Politicians of the time told us to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, to stop expecting the government to take care of our needs. At the same time, families with two working parents passed so-called traditional families as a percentage of the labor force and, while availability of professional childcare increased, support for those who wanted to raise their kids themselves was in jeopardy. By 2000, these overworked households had become the norm.

Who was watching the kids? People who, for all their good intentions, got to say goodbye to their charges before supper time. When our society most needed to encourage active parenting, so-called fiscal conservatives were on a fast track to cut funding for programs that might have helped notice the challenges facing 19-year-old Nicholas Cruz before they led him to kill 14 students and three staff members at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentines Day, 2018.

Cruz didn’t have the safety net Former Gov. Paul LePage grew up with. Today a jury began considering whether the Florida killer should be sentenced to death.

In requesting the now-23-year-old to instead spend a bunch of concurrent life sentences in prison, defense attorneys are expected to point to a childhood surrounded by alcoholic and abusive adults, bullying and the early death of the adoptive parents who might have helped him gain some sort of mental health.

Former Gov. Paul LePage of Ormond Beach, Florida and Edgecomb, Maine wants his old job back. The one he did so well, vetoing a record-setting 450 legislative bills in his first term and threatening the same his second for any proposal that did not seek to eliminate Maine’s income tax.

Among the legislative efforts LePage vetoed were those that would provide support for timely physical examinations of children entering state custody, allow corrections offices to administer Naloxone, increase efficiency in the enforcement of restitution and bail orders, protect the health and safety of first responders, restore community support services for adults with mental illness, strengthen the quality and supply of child care services, stabilize vulnerable families and increase youth mental health awareness in schools.

Paul LePage has often said he learned firsthand the way out of poverty is not government welfare but personal responsibility, employment and community support. In interviews and news stories from his term, he described an upbringing of physical abuse, alcoholism and some level of abandonment. His life got better when good people took him under their wings and taught him how to work and how to get along with people.

He was lucky, and he seems to know it. Sometimes people are even less fortunate in their beginnings than he was. Sometimes misfortune hits the hard-working and pure of heart midstream.

Not everyone has a close-knit community like the Lewiston of LePage’s early years. He had a village, even if it woke up late to the mess of his early childhood. In some places, no neighbor or local business owner would have seen in young Paul LePage whatever it was the Collins and Myrick families saw.

He was lucky to be found by caring people who taught the importance of rules and boundaries.

“They were tough,” he said in 2014. “I had to do my bed, I had to take a shower, I had to do my homework … that’s the kind of tough stuff that I wasn’t used to.”

Maybe his mentors did not see the feral volatility that pops up from time to time, causing the once and future candidate to behave in ways that disrupt the kind of communication we really need right now. Or maybe his willingness to push conflict to the physical is a product of the pressures of his later life. It cannot be easy to be Paul LePage.

For him, the presence of a stranger, constantly moving around him, lens and microphone aimed right at him… you can see how that might set him off.

I do not need to repeat last week’s threats. I have heard enough unnecessary fight talk to last me the rest of my years on this planet. If you have not, here is a link: https://youtu.be/e7i5YPaaumo

Anger is in all of us, but “use your words” does not mean to bludgeon or threaten people with them. You can stand your ground without lashing out. Especially at some guy who is, after all, just trying to do a day’s work. Even if that work is somewhat despicable.

I recently learned that most mental health challenges have their origins in trauma. Mr. LePage has had more than enough trauma for anyone person. But the story told during his years in Augusta, of how he rose above the poverty and social challenges of his youth, leave out any mention of the deep work that may be needed to help him understand and get past the violence that lies close to his surface.

I do not like the political parties that seek to run this country. Campaign trackers, insult hurlers, mass mailings and giant signs proclaiming one candidate’s superiority or another’s flaws – it is a mean-spirited game we play to choose our leaders. The tracker was doing what the party paid for. Unfortunately, scrutiny goes with the territory of staking a claim on the reins of government.

Reading the Maine Republican Party’s response to the incident, I wondered if Paul LePage or the tracker have read anything by Salman Rushdie, the author recently attacked onstage, a writer who puts compassion and empathy in every word he writes.

I am pretty sure both of them have been around for the pandemic that taught us about personal boundaries and social distance. Dance around the candidate as much as you safely can, but give him six feet. He’s a volatile guy. Do not trigger him.

Shlomit Auciello is a writer, photographer, and human ecologist who has lived in Midcoast Maine since 1988. Letter From Away has appeared online and in print, on and off since 1992, and is published here on a weekly basis.