STARTING THE TREK UP MOUNT PURGATORY

1. It’s Thursday, June 1, 2017.

2. It’s the birthday of Brigham Young and Amy Schumer. Go figure.

3. For some reason, Mr. Met flipped one of his middle fingers at a fan during last night’s Met debacle at Citi Field. 

(Remember, it has to be one of his middle fingers since he only has four of them.)

It was, of course, recorded on video – it’s safe to assume nothing goes unnoticed by a camera in 2017.

It’s not clear if the person inside the costume was goaded into his gesture. It doesn’t matter. It’s not cool.

No, it’s not cool because kids shouldn’t see this sort of thing. If a kid is at Citi Field on a school night in May, he or she has seen and heard far worse than a mute mascot’s bird flip.

It’s not cool because this is a character portrayed for more than 50 years as kind, funny, proud and cheerful. He poses with people wearing shirts and hats from all the other teams – when the Yankees show up every year, their fans line up to take silly photos with the symbol of the team they’re opposing.

To Met fans, and even to fans who don’t like the Mets, Mr. Met is fun in a world that’s not always so open to fun. The Mets have said they’ll handle this matter internally, and that’s how it should be.

I wouldn’t normally too much of a thing about a Mr. Met obscene gesture incident. Comedians and social media are having their fun for the next day or two, and then it will just linger in the collective memory.

4. But there’s something that doesn’t feel isolated or trivial about this.

You know what I mean. Civility, kindness, joy seem to be missing in our lives right now. No one is going to know what prompted a mascot to rudeness, but whoever was in the costume was obviously in a state of mind to do that.

No one can figure out the collective mindsets of the people behind that stupid Kathy Griffin video that drew so much attention. Yes, Kathy Griffin is primarily responsible for it, and she certainly is big on self-promotion.

But somebody had to enable her to do that. There was some mindset that said this is OK – this is actually funny.

People – especially the ones who support him – will groan if you blame Trump for all this. He didn’t make Kathy Griffin hold up an image of his severed head.

5. But the vibe is in the air. And damned if Trump didn’t put it there.

The constant barrage of crazy and angry and self-dealing is wearing down people’s sense of right and wrong, people’s sense of what’s acceptable behavior, people’s sense of responsibility toward others.

It’s depressing. Is anyone really, truly happy in this country right now?

Don’t tell me the people who support Trump are. It takes a lot of energy and karma to rationalize the stupidity and the conflicts. Especially the ones with Russia – the Trump base is old enough to remember when their hero Ronald Reagan called out the then Soviet Union and believe he was the one who brought it down.

And this country is not moving toward anything resembling unity. Especially when there’s a White House determined to rule rather than govern – that believes it doesn’t need as much of the nation behind it as it needs only the people who got them there.

The Trumpian descent into the inferno is in some ways like Dante’s in “The Divine Comedy.” There are the less egregious sins – the Kathy Griffin thing.

And then there are the whoppers – depriving millions of health care, becoming a climate change outlaw, shunning our traditional allies, breaking up families with Gestapo-like immigration enforcement and consorting with demons.

But in “The Divine Comedy,” Virgil leads Dante out of hell, first toward purgatory and then, with his beloved Beatrice, into heaven.

6. So, yes, we need a Virgil.

We need someone who is going to help point us toward light and redemption, to end this gloom that threatens to crush our people and our aspirations.

The time is ripe for anyone who will stop putting up his or her middle finger and will start rallying people. Who will say what he or she stands for, and that it’s something we as a people – all of us – can attain together.

People talk about a resistance. But they’re not really doing anything about it. The person who is going to lead the United States out of the morass and back onto the path of moral leadership needs to be doing that full-time.

When you see someone resign or retire from Congress or a governor’s mansion and say they’re ready to spend all their time working on bringing the country together, when you see someone following a path similar to the one Martin Luther King Jr. followed to fight for civil rights in the 1960s, that’s when the current joylessness will end.

When Trump has to spend his Twitter time attacking someone other than Hillary Clinton because he or she is the real threat to his hegemony, we’ll start to feel better. And then the light will finally be in the distance.

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