HOME HYGIENE LIBRARY CATALOG GO TO NEXT CHAPTER
Since the morning stars first sang together no single event has occurred in this earth of ours more significant in its nature and more instructive in its consequences than the rebirth of Hygiene. Hygiene holds out to every human being the most perfect health, the best physical and mental development, the most entire liberty and the most perfect happiness of which man is capable. In that glorious future which is even now, with the aid of our advancing knowledge, opening before us, when man shall live in a day-long, life-long observance of the laws of his being, there shall be no diseased life, no painful death. Such unceasing obedience of the laws of life can result only in health and length of life. Happiness and peace shall reign where now is misery and strife. Beyond that, what is there to be wished for?
We assume radical ground for Hygiene and insist, as we have done for years, that if the Hygienic revolution is permitted to complete itself, it will sweep over the world with its saving message and means. Before it, in its majestic march, the prejudices and false theories of centuries, the passions of the interested, the opposition of physicians and the cynicism of skeptics will fall. The gross habits of the masses, the wretched modes of life of the more particular and select, the thoughtless, careless conduct of the guardians of youth, the prevailing ignorance of the laws of life and the yet worse indifference on the part of those who have been set apart to proclaim to man the "way to heaven," will all be destroyed and a new, fresh, unsophisticated life will evolve. Out of this turbid, dark, half-chaotic mass will evolve good health, physical beauty and intellectual and moral excellence.
What poor creatures are men and women! How little do they do that lasts! They are born, they suffer, they die and are forgotten. They give birth to offspring that suffer and die as they do. How departure from the laws of being has tamed man and shorn him of his pristine glory! How it has destroyed the image of his Maker from his face and left in its place horrible disfigurement! How it has dimmed his eyes and quenched the bright flash these should wear! How it has bowed the back of once majestic man till his carriage resembles that of felon or slave! How it has robbed his heart of noble impulse and planted there instead low desire and passion! How it has transformed man!
With exceptions so rare as to be remarkable, man has presented himself in every phase a creature of low, grovelling appetites and passions, a bond-slave to desires that are abnormal and overpowering. His higher faculties have been subordinated to his propensities, his habits are masters of his principles; his convictions constantly yield to his desires. His aims are low, his gratifications lower; his successes, about which he boasts and swaggers, are sheer fictions; his achievements are practical defeats.
From all this degradation and defilement, from this low tone of existence, this groveling in indulgence, this hibernation in darkness, this sub-bestial life, is there no deliverance? Are no means of redemption at hand? There is the primrose path of self-destruction; is there no straight and narrow way to health and happy old age? Let the truthful answer be to all these questions: yes, there is a way to superior health. To those of us who love our bad habits and who refuse to look at them in the bright light of noonday to see what they really are and who refuse to give them up, either for health or for life, but will die first, there is no redemption. For the rest of us, if we start new and saving habits and keep them growing until they have smothered the bad ones, we will have laid the foundation for future health. When all of mankind has been freed from the thralldom of disease-producing habits
And from fashion's iron sway
Shall the race, in pristine vigor,
Go rejoicing on their way.
Those grand engines of oppression--"the iron trammels of despotic government, the brazen chains of intellectual tyranny, the mountain pressure of ancient customs"--pervert the noblest impulses of the human heart, paralyze the highest aspirations of the human intellect and crush and dwarf humanity itself. Remove these and the repressed image of God (man) rises up and asserts his dignity, develops his highest nature and achieves his destiny. Give man freedom (he cannot be independent) and he will work out his own salvation.
A revolution involving a modification of nearly all of our habits--voluntary habits, social usages and many of our established institutions and large-scale industries--is not begun and completed in a single generation. But, after centuries of ignorance, disease and crime, mankind is again on the road to health. What a blessing is health and what is life without it, but a miserable dragging out of existence without pleasure or enjoyment! It is quite true that but relatively few of those now living have tasted the virtue of the Hygienic System and know its value. But the number is increasing.
How little can a human being know of his own nature, his powers, his relations, his destiny, while all his energies are crushed by dissipating government, his aspirations worked to suit particular creeds and his actions interpreted by the false standards which ignorance and tyranny have established and consecrated!
We view the progress of Hygiene, with the science and philosophy upon which it is based, as being at the very foundation of all progress. The first object of a sick man is health and he can do nothing effectual in the way of bettering his condition, in other respects, until he has gotten rid of his diseases. So with the sick world--its first want is health; with that will go vigor, clear-sightedness and a capacity for all other progress. Give the world health and you give it capacity for every kind of physical and moral improvement.
Men pray for a home of beauty, one in which there will be no violence and suffering, yet they turn the earth into a shambles and destroy the beauty that surrounds them. They long for freedom and bow to the power of state and church--to the forces of repression, suppression and compression. Men can be more than they are. They can recapture the joyous exuberance of life that our primitive ancestors knew. When that happy day arrives the sick will hold a jubilee and earth will look more joyous than ever. Then where weakness now is, there shall be strength; where there is now weariness, shall be repose; where haggardness now is, shall be beauty; where sickness now is, shall be health. Such an existence as we have pictured will be a satisfying foretaste of that future Utopia or Eden for which humanity has longed since the dawn of history.
Our highest ideals, whether of manhood and womanhood or of institutions and life, are merely foreshadowings of possible realities. The wildest speculations of one age become the common-place facts of the next. We may seek every day for the perfect man and woman; but we are not, therefore, justified in declaring that they are never to be found. Perfection comes within the range of human capability. It is a possibility for the race if not for the individual. "There is no telling what tall oak may grow from this little acorn, especially if it is warmed with golden sunshine and watered with silver showers."
The more we compare the condition of the people of the present with that of the people of the past, the more we dwell on a reasonable hope of better conditions in the future, the more dissatisfied we become with the condition in which we find ourselves. When the reason for all our past and present miseries shall have been fully revealed to us, we shall be in a position to enjoy still more the health and happiness that is in store for us. Should this world of ours come to an end in its present state, it would have to be pronounced a failure the same as a plant is a failure if it withers before coming to maturity.
Writing editorially, May 1856, Trall said: "Just so soon as the masses of people learn the great lessons that it is easier to keep health than to regain it; cheaper to prevent crime than to punish it; better to acquire knowledge than to suffer from ignorance and happier to be in peace and comity with our neighbors than in envious competition, just so soon will we have panagyriums in the place of jails, penitentiaries, grogshops, theatres, gambling halls, horse-racing, general trainings and, shall we say it ladies, tea parties!" In some places, he said, eating parties and tea-table scandals are all the amusements the females can find, while the males can only relieve the tedium of dull hours by resorting to the tavern or saloon and talking politics and puffing cigars.
We now think of the dawn of the day when the people shall know how to live without sickness. The laws of life are the great supporters of the great way of life and a sickly community is always weak in its obedience to the laws of being. "After all, we are too sick to live our own lives--not to repeat the stupid prejudices of each other--not to make our law the law of others." We have to create a proper environment for man's most enduring hope and no man's mind can rise above his physical deterioration.
Heredity gets the blame for anything that is not understood. If the individual is sick and the physician cannot ascribe a cause to the sickness, he can always blame it on heredity. In the April 1930 issue of the Review and Critique, Tilden tells of a little three-year-old girl who was brought to him from a great distance. He says that indigestion caused by scientific feeding had produced great acidity of the stomach and bowels. The mucous membrane of the child's vagina was excoriated from an acid leucorrhea, causing behavior that was distressing to both the parents and the physicians. "The severe itching was driving the child mad." He tells us that she "was continually trying to relieve herself by rubbing and scratching." Her physicians decided that the child was a "natural-born sex-pervert" and that she was "a very vicious abnormal child." Even the parents were accused of sex perversion, otherwise they could not have produced a child "cursed" as this one was.
The parents had carried out the advice to punish the child severely, but the punishment did not seem to do any good. How could it have relieved the intolerable itching and burning? What wonder that Dr. Tilden says he was filled with disgust when he heard the story of the "child's viciousness" and its inheritance from the parents. He says that he had seen other cases of this type, but he had never seen one that had been abused as this child had been.
With proper fasting, feeding and cleanliness, he says, within ten days the little patient had lost all of its diabolism--its proclivities for masturbation. Besides the fasting and simple feeding, he instructed the nurse to give vaginal douches of hot water, as hot as could be borne without doing injury, to cleanse the excoriated mucous surfaces. The child "soon became the idol of all who had the pleasure of knowing it." This was "after it was made happy by having its health restored." This simply means that as soon as the vaginal inflammation ended and the acid state of the digestive system was corrected, the child ceased to be a "sex-pervert." It is strange, says Tilden, "how satisfying unscientific treatment is. Remove cause and nature does the rest." Let the psychoanalyists take note.
The foregoing is an example of the suffering that grows out of wrong information and abuse, no matter how scientific these may be. The parents of the little girl were, perhaps, as loving as most parents are and did for the child the best that they knew. When love gives hurtful indulgence that results in sickness, that poisons the well-springs of life, it can cause as much suffering as studied abuse. My heart goes out to those whom the accidents of this world have thrown upon charity, and often a charity so unwise that its loving kindness is only a calamity.
Not only the child, but woman as well has been special victim of mankind's ignorance. She has been made a slave, not merely to man's greed, but also to his lust. Women especially are in need of health and strength. They are in need of knowledge of how to care for themselves.
She stood before the Hygienist, a beautiful ruin seeking for help. What could he do for her? If by any course of treatment, he could free her body of poisons, he could not by such means secure her against that mode of life which would reproduce the state of poisoning. Any system of medicine which deals with so-called remedies, whatever their kind, and which does not embrace physiology and a complete mental philosophy, will fail in nine cases out of ten in restoring health and will succeed only by chance in the other tenth.
He endeavored to make her understand the exceeding folly of still further taxing her diseased system with health-destroying substances--so-called medicines. With a mind exceedingly clear on most subjects, she was a child with respect to the economy of the human system, the laws of life and of healing. Like so many others, she looked to a physician when ill with as much faith as that with which the ancients consulted the oracles or the American Indian his medicine man. Though she failed always of receiving any lasting benefit, she had gone on trying old and new medicines and old and new physicians with a zeal worthy a better fate, with a faith that did not fail, because it was continually fed by hope. Men and women absurdly expect their physicians to create health for them while they themselves do nothing but manufacture disease. After searching for years through the medium of physicians and their pills, injections, wonder drugs, etc., she found what she had been looking for through the simple application of rest, fresh air, sunshine, pure water, wholesome food and a corrected way of life. There is no other way to return to health.
Hygiene did for her in ten months what medical treatment had failed to do in 15 years. She is a picture of health and beauty, her whole nature having undergone a change for the better. What will physicians say when they see what Hygiene--good, applied Hygiene--enabled her to do for herself in so short a time? The skill of the medical school had failed; let them account for the successes of Hygiene, if they can, on any ground that does not involve them in condemnation of their own failure.
As the people become more intelligent on physiological subjects, drugging grows less and less popular. The whole people are being affected through the influence of the small but growing number of Hygienists who are among them. Rapidly we are growing from a kindergarten to a kingdom. Upon us who have a knowledge of Hygiene and the glorious results it is capable of working in mankind falls the work of demonstrating its practical blessings, laying them kindly at the door of the humblest human habitation and shouting its message from the housetops, Its spread is our opportunity and our responsibility.
Even those of us who reject the dogma of man's total depravity cannot well reject that of total ignorance. Though not synonymous, the two words are twins. As light is the only remedy for darkness, so knowledge is the only remedy for ignorance. How many of us are prepared to consecrate our time, energies and talents to the promulgation of the glorious truths that are in our possession? How many of us are ready to become leaders? Those who have the heart to do it will find the work of educating the people a very noble work--grand, glorious and sublime!
Everywhere men are beginning to lose their faith in mere political reforms. They are beginning to discern that more radical changes are needed than those proposed by any of the party leaders--hence the growing interest in the various proposals for the social and economic reconstruction of society. The Hygienic reconstruction of society must form an integral part of that broader socio-economic reconstruction without which Hygiene in its glorious fullness is not possible. Man's urge to regain wholeness finds expression in the revolutionary cry for freedom from disease and suffering. Men have lived in a world of terror and darkness, but now the terror is being dissipated by Hygiene and when this is completed, there will be only sunshine.