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The grandest desiderium in the twentieth century, surpassing in value all other discoveries that may be made in this or any succeeding century, is a true and reliable science of health or, more properly, a science of life. It would render life and health as certain as chemistry and physics, electricity and, perhaps, astronomy. When we think of how numerous and how intense the joys of living can be when we are in exuberent health and when we contrast this state of euphoria with the suffering and discomfort of disease, why do we think of the man or woman who cultivates health as a mere faddist?
We are daily surprised at the lack of information possessed by the people pertaining to their health and its maintenance. Although it is obviously to their highest interests to know how to preserve high-level health, they appear to be entirely indifferent to the matter. This can be accounted for only by assuming that they have been conditioned to depend upon others to look after their well-being. Formerly they were led to believe that Providential arrangements have removed the vital issues of life from their control, so that there was no use for them to look after and try to preserve their health. More recently they have been taught to believe that it is of no consequence to care for health--the most ignorant and indifferent to the precise conditions of life being just as likely to escape illness as he who consciously seeks to preserve his health. If these surmises are not correct, it still remains certain that the vast majority of our people are not enjoying good health and that under our present ways of living we have not been able to extend the length of human life.
Our people have no philosophy of life. If they are religious, they assume that God intends that man shall be sick. God does not hold us responsible for our illnesses. If they are scientific, they assume that sickness is inevitable, indeed, that health is but a mirage. Science assures us that sickness is unavoidable except as it discovers immunizers.
If we could fully realize that no foul fungus springs from healthy flesh and no plague develops in pure, living blood, we could grasp the supreme importance of health in all our activities of mind and body. We would understand the importance of health in the conduct of the affairs of the world. We would demand health in our leaders, if we are to continue to play the sorry game of "follow the leader." What can we expect of poetry, if the life of the poet is one long disease; of literature, when the writers are drugged to intoxication; of art, when the artists are degraded to the level of their own indulgent lives; of religion, when its ministers are steeped in sensuality; of the state, so long as its administrators are drunk and diseased; of education, when our teachers are morbid throughout; of students, when coffee, cigarettes, hot dogs, soft drinks and sex occupy so much of their time and attention? When the very foundation of our civilization is rotten, how shall we make it serve the genuine interests of mankind?
The first need of our world is health. Everybody knows this, but so universal is sickness that men do not recognize disease as abnormal, the result of violations of the laws of life established in nature for the control of our complex being. Health is the basis of goodness and happiness, the foundation of all progress and the theme to which our thoughts and energies will at this time be devoted. Show us anything in the universe that is in normal relations to all other things and we will point you to a good thing, a source of pleasure to every living thing, a blessing to all creation.
How may a high state of health be attained? How may we assure wholeness and fullness of development, vigor of function and freedom from disease and suffering? How may man be returned to that soundness and integrity of structure and vigor and force of life that he knew in the morning of his existence? If contemporary man is so lacking in health that he is but a puny specimen of manhood, how can he be restored to his pristine power and majesty? In a word: how may man be healed? The sun of those far away days has grown chary of its beaming countenance, while groping wanderers cast up longing eyes to its vivifying effulgence; but purblind and weary, they involve themselves in inextricable labyrinths. Although we may, perhaps, be conscious of its diffused radiance, between us and the source of light there seems to be an impenetrable veil.
It should not require argument to convince the intelligent man and woman that man can return to health and strength only upon a basis of law--natural law--specifically, upon a basis of those laws that operate to make human life possible. All laws essential to the welfare of man are written in his own constitution. Every rule of human conduct to be valid in promoting human welfare and happiness must be in harmony with his nature. No law, no social custom (convention), no moral precept, can have any validity for man that does not accord with his highest welfare. If it is not intimately related to man's highest fitness--physical, moral and intellectual--it cannot correspond to his highest ideals of truth, duty and enjoyment.
Those of us who study and understand Natural Hygiene look upon this subject from an elevated standpoint. Taking a comprehensive view of it and living within the benefits of Hygiene, we are hardly aware of the prejudice to be combated and the ignorance to be removed, before mankind will be brought to understand that it is better, from every point of view, to live in a state of health than in a state of disease--in a state of happiness than in one of suffering and misery. Our people seem content to be useless half of their lives, and they watch with indifference the mounting incidence of degenerative disease.
They reject the idea that it is our right and duty to live in health to a good old age--that sickness, pain and early death are results of our wrong doings. If they could but grasp the significant fact that man is the builder of his own suffering, the architect of his own miseries, they could begin earnestly to look at their habits and ways of life. They would then be more likely to study the ways of life to the end that they may enjoy uninterrupted good health and an abounding vigor. The people need urgently to learn that the normal condition of human beings is one of health, that man is never sick without cause and that sickness is always the result of violation of the laws of life. Never a child cries with colic nor an adult groans with it, there is never a neuralgia or a diarrhea, no child suffers with a cold and no adult has an ulcer of the stomach, unless there has been repeated violations of the laws of organic being.
The habits of the people are subversive of health in almost every important respect. They eat, drink, smoke, play, work, rest, marry, bear children, go wherever their fancy desires, wherever their appetites and passions lead them--they do almost everything, all without reference to the laws of the human constitution. The body resists the influence of these violations and repairs daily the ravages of such, so that their cumulative effects are long in making themselves felt as disease.
It is a very deplorable aspect of our life that where we need to be thoughtful, we are thoughtless; heedful, we are heedless; cautious, we are risky; comprehensive, we are foolish; where there ought to be knowledge, there is ignorance; where surety, distrust; where regularity, there is dissipation; where we should fast, we eat to excess; where we should live simply, our lives are complex and harassed; when we should sleep, we indulge in revelry and riot; we drink when we should avoid stimulants and narcotics; where we should take only fresh air into our lungs, we smoke tobacco; when we should walk, we ride; where we should be in the open air, we are sitting in a stuffy room; where we should dress lightly, we are smothered in clothing; where our clothes should be loose, they are so tight as to impede circulation; where we should refuse to take drugs, we swallow a miniature drug store; where we should be independent beings, we are under the surveillance of a physician; where we should live for years without an ache or a pain, we go through no day without them and die at a comparatively early age; where health should be the rule and where ill health should be the exception, the converse is true. It should be obvious that whatever may be an individual's capacity for achievement, nothing is so certain to defeat all expectations and render high achievement impossible than ill health. Let ill health render a person incompetent to put his energies and talents to work and nothing but failure can result.
As exact as are the laws of life, they are not difficult to understand and they are not hard to obey; indeed, it is easier to obey them than to violate them. It is easier to live in harmony with the laws of being than to live otherwise; it is easier to do right than to do wrong. This is true because we are constituted to live in this way.
There is a true way of living--a way of living so that human beings may remain in health--a way of living so that those who are sick may evolve into good health. This way of life seeks to conform in all particulars to the laws of being and disdains all efforts to nullify these laws and steal health by illegitimate means. The conditions of health amount to nothing more nor less than a strict observance of the laws which govern and control the living organism. These laws are not hidden, but are clearly written on every page of history; they are indelibly fixed in every vital tissue; they are stamped on every organic instinct, observed in every manifestation of sense and expressed in every action of every mental power.
Are you human? Are you an animal? Are you of the "earth, earthy?" Are you subject to the laws of life? Are you subject to the conditions of life on the earth? Do you have the same physiological needs as the rest of humanity? If you can answer yes to these questions, the message of this book is for you. If you are human, you are subject to laws and conditions, compliance with which will provide for health, vigor and length of life; failure to comply with them will build weakness, disease, misery and shortened life.
Hygiene is a way of life adapted to the needs and conditions of human beings and not to spiritual beings. It is adapted to supply the physiological needs of a living organism, not one that fills the organism with exotic and adventitious materials of a deleterious character. It recognizes man's sicknesses as of mundane origin and not of supernatural causation. The Hygienic life is one of health, with all its pleasures. There is no natural death, save the gradual and painless wearing out of the vital energy in old age. Health is the result of Hygienic living. Disease is the result of accidental, ignorant or willful violation of the laws of nature.
The Hygienist says that, in order to discover the best means of retaining and restoring health, it is necessary to study nature. But, when he says this, he does not mean that we must view the landscape or enjoy the beauties of the evening sunset. Enjoyable as are these activities, they do not lead to an understanding of life and its needs. We must study living nature--life. We must understand the conditions of its existence, the laws of its operations, the requirements of its different modes of activity, the effects of different environments upon the living organism, the effects of its own ways of life upon it, the relation of avocation to health, the relation of occupation to self-expression, the good or evil that it is subjected to and how it meets these, appropriating the one and resisting, expelling or escaping from the other.
We need to know and understand the needs of the body for food, air, water, light, activity, rest and sleep, warmth or coolness, cleanliness, peace and poise, hope and cheer, confidence and faith, friendship and love; we need to know how to adjust these to the varying needs and circumstances of life. We need to know the evils of excess, the damages of fear, anger, worry, anxiety, internal conflicts, of the destructiveness of poisons of all kinds, the impairing influences of deficiencies, the role of sex in life. We need to recognize and know the sequences of cause and effect that we may be in a position to remove the antecedent that its consequence may be ended. This is a study of biology, more properly, of bionomics--Hygienically, a study of orthobionomics.
The laws of nature, as these are manifested on and through the human organism, constitute the only basis on which we can predicate an understanding of the effects of human habits upon health and longevity. Dr. G. H. Taylor emphasized the fact that health and the best means of promoting it cannot be studied in the sick room, but its needs are best ascertained in the most perfectly healthy. By such a study we gain a fair indication of normal wants, thus are able to know what are the real wants of the sick body. The healthy do not shrink from the air they should breathe, nor from the labor they should perform; they do not destroy the proportional elements of the food they should eat, nor do they seek to obtain a fitful, sickly exaltation of their pleasures beyond the range of their real wants.
Health, as previously defined, is maintained by a simple nourishing diet, pure air, exercise, cleanliness and the regulation of the passions. The individual consists of more than a body. The wholesome, natural and due performance of the functions of the mind is equally as important as that of the body. Modern man is a mechanic and a chemist and he interprets life in mechanical and chemical terms. He has lost all touch with nature and with the sources of supply of his basic needs.
We need to be much in the open air, to have all our rooms well ventilated; our windows should be open at top and bottom with no impediment from shades and curtains. Breathe the pure air night and day. We should have our rooms light and airy, should avoid darkness and get all the sunshine we can. The sun is a great fountain of vitality. A correct mode of living is the great fundamental basis of good health. Fresh air, proper food, pure water, sunshine, appropriate exercise, rest and sleep, cleanliness and mental poise are the great essentials of health and long life. With these, we may take the advice of Shakespeare and literally "throw physic to the dogs." Without them, we may poison and carve, dose ourselves with nostrums and abuse ourselves with all the popular therapeutic modalities, both of the regular and irregular schools, exhaust the empire of charlatanism and still remain groaning invalids and crawling wrecks of humanity until death closes the scene.
No diet, no oxygen, no sunshine, will produce vital operations in a corpse. Everything we do, whether well or sick, must be subservient to the power of life. Food is valuable only in connection with the power to utilize it. Given a wholesome environment and physical and mental habits that maintain normal nerve energy and the functions of man's body will be normal and this is health. If the environment and habits are enervating and functions are lowered, disease evolves as a necessary consequence of lagging function. Upon the healthy condition, the purity and richness of the blood, depends our physical well-being, our bodily strength, our mental sanity and the happiness of our existence.
Say what you like, healthful habits do not cause death. Pure air, pure water, moderate eating of wholesome foods--these and similar wholesome things are not disease producing. Impure air, impure water, excesses of food, unwholesome food, imprudence in eating, excesses of all kinds, lack of rest and sleep, inadequate exercise, poisoned drinks, smoking, etc., are all disease producing. Here, then, we have set before us two ways of life--opposite ways--the one leading straight to health and strength, the other equally as straight to weakness and disease. The physician who thinks that the prevailing habits of eating and drinking are correct will give no attention to these causes of disease. He will search for germs or viruses--he will ignore coffee, tobacco, alcohol, excesses, late hours, sexual over-indulgence, passional stresses, etc., and lead his patient to believe that his suffering is due to some obscure something called disease that has seized upon him and must be destroyed.
Life and health are composed of a concatenation of circumstances over which individual control is a necessary condition to self-improvement and progression. It remains true, unfortunately, that most health seekers attempt to regain health by the employment of partial or incomplete measures. Instead of wholeness of program, they adopt some one or two elements of what should be a health-building way of life and ride this as a hobby. Full health requires, nay, it demands a full program of healthful living. One does not attain fullness of health by diet alone nor by exercise alone nor by means of a fast alone, etc. None of the needs of healthy life can be neglected; none of them can be over-indulged.
Concerning the necessity for a total Hygienic program, Trall said editorially in the Journal for October, 1861: "The world moves. Since the establishment of the New York Hygeio-Therapeutic School in 1853, whose professors are Hygienic physicians, Hygienic or Health Education seems to have become a prominent topic with many teachers and patrons of literary institutions. Amherst College, Mass., has led the way in establishing a chair for special instruction in gymnastics and Harvard is urging the appointment of a Professor in Hygiene. But we fear the functions of the professorship are destined to be altogether too limited. The idea of Hygienic education or training, with nearly all teachers and institutions who have dignified it with the position of a chair or department of the general educational course, embraces little more than gymnastic and calisthenic exercises. These are useful and important, so far as they go; but they constitute only a fractional part of Hygiene. A professor of Hygiene should be nothing more nor less than a practical physiologist. Physiology is the doctrine of functions, as anatomy is the doctrine of structures. It is for the anatomist to reveal the order and arrangement of the living machinery, so fearfully and wonderfully made; and for the physiologist to explain its actions and uses. It is the business of the hygeist so to exercise each of the vital tissues and organs as to secure the equal and harmonious development of all. This theme, therefore, comprehends something more than mere muscular exercises.
"The material of which the structures are formed is quite as important as are the amount and kind of exercise; hence diet is one of the subject-matters of the Professor of Hygiene. And on this subject we are quite sure that a majority of the Hygeian professors teach altogether the wrong sentiments . . . The Hygienic professor's vocation not only embraces exercise and diet, but it comprehends also air, respiration, ventilation, clothing, temperature, rest, sleep, passional influences, etc. All of these subjects are comprehended in the course of the Professor of Physiology and Hygiene in the Hygeio-Therapeutic College and should be taught by every Professor of Hygiene.
"We believe that one of the drug-medical schools of this city introduced a chair of Hygiene last year; or at least the subject of Hygiene as a branch of education to be properly taught in a medical college. But we suspect it did not amount to much. Hygienic and drug-medical education can never flourish in the same school. They can never long coexist. The druggery must soon poison out the Hygiene, or the Hygiene will inevitably exterminate the drugs . . ."
Time enters as an essential element in working for the perfection of the individual and development must necessarily go through a consecutive course of gradations. Health is not regained in a bound. There is a day-by-day, often unobservable improvement in health, as conformity to the laws of being is continued.
We have set forth in this work the laws of life so far as these are understood and we think that just in proportion as these laws are observed, so far as all the functions of life are concerned, will more people have health and happiness. It is our thought that most of the ills, diseases, premature mortality and general unhappiness of our race are intimately connected with violations of these laws. We can pardon not the incredulity with which this statement will be received by those most interested in its truth. We tend to cling to our errors and our vices and even to hug our chains. We seem to be in love with sickness and rush upon premature death as if it were not in violation of the laws of nature. We find it difficult to believe in a condition of universal health, plenty and happiness. Some are even mad enough to fight against it--distrusting the goodness of the universal order and blaspheming it by slandering its creatures and its laws.
In the world as at present organized, which is an irreversible antihuman machine, no individual can obey these laws so as to have integral health--it is an impossibility. We tend towards health as far as we and others become aware of the evils that exist. But if my neighbor poisons the air with the fumes of tobacco, if he pollutes the water with the exhaust from his factory, if he radiates evil wherever he goes, he makes me suffer with him. There is a unity in the race that makes the crimes of one man rebound to the hurt of another. We cannot repudiate this unity any more than we can repudiate the unity of our own body. I cannot be healthy alone--I cannot be honest alone. In a society in which dishonesty is the fashion, as it is everywhere, though people do not understand it, dishonesty is forced upon all. The full Hygienic life must await that broader social revolution that will liberate man from age-old slaveries that bind him to social evils.