There is a stretch in my weekly jog that requires complete attention. It’s a rise up and over a small knoll along a woods trail. It is riddled with tree roots running along, into and across the otherwise woodchip-covered pathway. Each root runs irregularly and is a different size.

Successful navigation requires channeling my inner football running back – the high-stepping-through-tires drill. I have endured more scraped knees, twisted ankles and sprained wrists along that stretch than I care to remember for failing to keep my eyes, my mind and my feet on the same spot as I traversed that section of trail.

I was reminded of that path as I thought about the painful but not entirely surprising results of the recent vote that will take the United Kingdom out of the European Union. Those focused on long-term, highly diffuse general public welfare ignore at their peril the short-term, highly concrete and very individual suffering that inevitably follows major social change. Thinking and talking about the benefits of globalization will trip all of us up if we don’t attend to the immediate details of those for whom the phrase “long-term benefits” means “no job today.”

Looking at the maps of the Brexit vote – London favoring “stay” and much of the rest of the country favoring “leave” – I was reminded of our long-running debate here about “the two Maines.” One of the effects of globalization seems to have been an increased concentration of the benefits in specific geographical areas. In Maine, we see that as “Greater Portland”– or, as some would have it, “northern Massachusetts” – versus the rest of the state.

But we are not alone in this feeling. According to a recent report by the Economic Innovation Group, only 28 percent of U.S. counties matched or exceeded the national average in job growth since 2010, and fully half of national job growth since 2010 has occurred in only 2 percent of all U.S. counties.

These facts point to two overarching conclusions:

 Whatever the overall gains associated with globalization may be, the painful adjustments associated with those gains are widespread and are ignored only at the risk of provoking widespread backlash against it.

No amount of sympathy and no amount of acknowledgment of the reality and validity of individual losses can bring back the past. Efforts to put the globalization genie back in its bottle will only impoverish everyone. Raising barriers to trade and increasing subsidies to residential preference will only further slow the economic growth that is the only answer to the problems of globalization.

What, then, can we do to counter the growing concentration of business and job creation that has been so prevalent during the so-called recovery of 2010 to 2016?

The first step is to change our thinking from distinct regions to nodes in a network – from field clearing and single-crop planting agriculture, like potatoes and grains, to nodes and runners agriculture, like strawberries. We can’t hope to spread economic activity evenly across the landscape to replace every mill that has closed. That would be far too expensive and far too subject to the same competitive vulnerability that has laid waste to the mills that originally sprung up in so many small, rural communities.

Instead, I believe that the best public policy response to the losses of globalization is to work with those communities that demonstrate a commitment to facing the future courageously rather than nostalgically.

One example of a node in Maine that’s working today is Belfast, with its commitment to its waterfront and to working with Athena Health to find and help train not workers who already possess needed skills, but workers willing to learn the new skills needed for a 21st century service business.

An example of progress is Greenville, with its “all-in” commitment to developing both the scenic resources around Moosehead Lake and the downtown amenities that will encourage visitors to come again and to stay longer. Similarly, Sanford plans to build a high-speed internet connection to its downtown and to accompany that investment with a matching effort to identify and attract the types of businesses that need this infrastructure, rather than simply hoping that a “build it and they will come” philosophy is sufficient.

Maine’s state and local governments, its business leaders and its philanthropic community must show they realize that saying “We feel your pain” is not a sufficient policy response to the challenges of globalization. That declaration must be followed by a reminder that “while pain is inevitable, suffering is not, and we are prepared to help alleviate the suffering.”

Charles Lawton is chief economist for Planning Decisions, Inc. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]