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It is time to take a stance

 


If you love gardening then chances are you probably also appreciate the arts and the humanities.

I have always considered gardening a form of art and the warm and fuzzy feeling I get from being around plants is the same kind of feeling I receive from good music, theater, a good book, or a simple walk in the park where I am surrounded by the beauty of nature. It is my considered opinion that these kinds of experiences are essential to a healthy society but sadly they are currently under attack by our administration because they are perceived as nonessential or as having little value to us. Nothing could be farther from the truth and we need to let our legislators know.

Mike Mulvaney, President Trump’s budget director recently made the statement that he could not in good conscience ask a single mom the help fund the National Endowment for the Arts or the Humanities. I am pretty sure I know what that single mom would have said if Mr. Mulvaney actually took the time to ask her. He also stated that he couldn’t ask an unemployed coal miner in West Virginia to contribute either to such a “frivolous cause” (my words) and again, I would submit to Mr. Mulvaney that the coal miner might very likely have responded that having a peaceful place full of beauty to go to may be the only thing that was keeping him sane.

It’s a slippery slope from defunding the arts and humanities to eliminating our national arboretums and botanical gardens and regional and local parks. I have written in the past about the value of attractive landscapes and the mental health benefits of being around plants. As gardeners we need to remind our politicians at all levels of government how important these services are to us as individuals and as a society. They are not non-essential in any way, shape, or form but rather should have a similar status with police, fire, roads and public safety.

If you can remember Psych 101 and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs then you might recall that we need to fulfill the basic physical needs of food and water and safety and security before we can move to the next level of psychological needs such as feeling loved and gaining a sense of accomplishment and ultimately self-actualization. But there needs to be a balance when it comes to allocating resources to meet these needs so that we can move upward through the pyramid of needs. Meeting our basic needs is what satisfies our physical self and meeting our psychological needs is what I like to think of as satisfying our spiritual self or what some call our soul. While food and water and safety are the elements that help meet our physical needs, it is the arts and humanities that feed our souls. When our souls are nourished then humanity benefits and we become a much more civil society. That is what is at stake here.

If you are concerned that your tax dollars are going to make bigger bombs, more bullets and 30-foot tall walls at the expense of supporting the arts and humanities (which in my book includes institutions like arboretums and botanical gardens) then you need to make your voice heard before it is too late. We can no longer stay on the sideline waiting for someone else to speak up. Contact your representatives and let them know how you feel.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at info@sunnysidenursery.net.

 

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