“Water, water, quench fire. Fire won’t burn stick, stick won’t beat dog, dog won’t bite pig, pig won’t jump over the stile and I shan’t get home tonight,” said the old lady of the nursery rhyme, along with several more stanzas of causes and effects.

Kids love these playful bits of folk wisdom. I certainly did, and this one taught me an important lesson about the world. It is surprising how things are interconnected.

I think of this as fears arise about the Trump administration possibly working to eviscerate arts organizations in America. The arts are connected to vast realms of activity. Imagine that a theater is defunded to the point that it has to cut staff, produce fewer plays, with smaller casts, simpler sets, and likely more “dark” nights of closed doors. There would be protests, and we might hear in response, “Let ’em watch ‘Gilligan’s Island’ reruns. Beautiful. Huge hit.”

But this wouldn’t be merely about a theater troupe. Fewer people would be spending money buying tickets and eating nearby, shopping in stores, and sleeping in motels. Motels would lay off staff, restaurants would cut back on food supplies, suppliers would downsize orders from widespread sources. On and on.

The arts generate money that gets spread around among a great many people. Just consider the Maine International Film Fesitival here in Waterville. Eviscerating the arts in America would be bad business. The money saved would probably not even buy one battleship. Even more importantly, the cultural, educational, inspirational,and even spiritual enrichment that the arts offer and afford would be lost.

The arts are who we are. A global “selfie.” And kids who have arts in their schools do better in all subjects. That is a fact.

Abbott Meader


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