I thought I was going slowly, but it wasn’t slow enough for the man on his moored mini-schooner. From his deck, he wildly gesticulated to turn it and pull the throttle back — so wildly, in fact, it could be mistaken for being a little threatening.

It was, after all, a “no wake” zone. This fellow, who looked like he might have evangelized free love in the 60s and 70s, not only looked unloving, but he wanted to regulate my behavior.

There’s a lot of that going around.

A good friend of mine chose not to get vaccinated. He has his reasons and has done his research. I am pretty “live and let live” so I haven’t given it a moment’s thought. My having gotten vaccinated way back, he doesn’t make me feel the least bit “at risk.” But when I heard someone else whom I used to consider “live and let live” make noises about regulating his behavior, it struck me as off-key.

In America today, Karen is ascendant. I am not at all sure that is a good thing.

The pilgrims left England in 1620 because they felt their puritanism was at odds with Elizabethan licentiousness. So they struck out, first for Amsterdam, then for what was soon to be called America.

Once their survival in the new world was secure, some of these puritans started acting like Karens. Before long, folks in Salem started calling women “witches,” generally without proof. Communities then drowned innocent women in a perverse divining test, where the only exculpation was death.

So, we have a history with all this. But we also have the Gadsden flag (“Don’t Tread on Me”) and a neighboring state with the motto “Live Free or Die.” Some statists in Massachusetts found this offensive, before being reminded that New Hampshire does not belong to them.

In the course of human events, there will always be a struggle between those who want to do their own thing and those who lust to regulate others. Often, folks in this latter category have advanced degrees that inform their views of public interest and common good, but those degrees do not make them infallible.

In a sort of post-Trump/post-COVID-19 world, many of us are still pretty raw. It’s not my intent to go poking anyone for sheer fun. But I have a strong intuition I feel obliged to share:

If you don’t want Trump to come back, it’s time to mute Karen. Yes, I know, it sounds like I’m the one calling for regulations now. But it’s also useful to recognize that as long as there are hectoring finger-waggers, there will be those who cheer on disruptions that cause the finger-waggers to lose their balance. The two are more intimately connected than either cares to admit.

As creatures do in the wild, we, too, live in a delicate balance. The best way to honor and respect that precariousness is to avoid pushing it. When one feels compelled to impose one’s will on another, it might be a good idea to stop and breathe.

In the older days, a shared sense of appropriateness governed these relations. A small, yapping dog might bark and snap at a big, powerful dog that could end its life in a heartbeat, but the bigger dog, confident of its own power, wouldn’t pay the yapping much mind.

Now, thanks to the digital class, the yapping has grown into a louder, more ever-present noise with which the big dogs may grow less patient.

Today’s rebalancing might look like this: Dial back the calls for regulating others, and I’ll pull back the throttle.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.