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Life Of The Average Individual

( Originally Published 1927 )

In infancy the sacrifice to error begins. The latest statistics that have come to my attention on the subject show that about 140 babies out of each 1000 born die before they are one year old, even though every child that is born in fair health can live to adult age. Very few babies are so weak and deformed at birth that they lack the capacity to live.

After the infant stage is past the children suffer from many troubles, which we call diseases of childhood—such as measles, scarlet fever, summer complaints, diphtheria, adenoids, enlarged glands, and many other ills. These should be renamed diseases of carelessness, or diseases of ignorance, for it is unnecessary to be ill. Children properly fed and given good care remain well.

After childhood is past the chances of health are good until the age of over thirty, though during this period tuberculosis is most active and takes a large toll of human life. Various acute fevers help to keep the population down. But those with good constitutions enjoy good health during this period, and abuse themselves accordingly. If those with large experience call the attention of these vigorous young people to the trouble they are storing up for themselves, they contemptuously say that nothing hurts them, they are always well, and they have fine health. They can burn the candle at both ends and abuse body and mind in many ways, but nothing hurts them. And nobody can open their eyes. Truly, no one is as blind as the individual with good eyes who will not see; and no one is as foolish as the person with a good mind who will not think.

Those with very good constitutions usually do well in spite of improper living, until they come to the late thirties or the early forties. Those whose bodies are not so good begin to experience trouble soon after passing the thirtieth year, some even in the twenties. They find that it is a greater effort to walk long distances, or to climb hills, or to do physical work requiring sustained effort. They find that the mind wants to roam; they can not concentrate as long as they could. What used to be a pleasure be-comes a task. Inactivity becomes more welcome and appealing. They are slipping, and many, with the capacity to live long and use-fully pass out of the picture.

In the thirties the foundation for many chronic diseases is laid. Many at this time pre-pare for high blood pressure, hardened arteries, fatty heart, enlarged or contracted liver, chronic diabetes, Bright's disease, softening of the brain, and other ills that carry away most of the human race at a time when they should be in full physical and mental bloom. In some these processes are well started in the twenties.

In the forties the great harvest of death from chronic diseases begins with a full crew. By this time the average man and woman has lived long enough to start to obtain a true insight into life, long enough to see things broadly; but having neglected to learn the fundamental laws of physical and mental health, the individual lacks the saving knowledge of self-preservation. Debility and disease come apace and the individual goes under. If this were in accordance with the laws of nature, or the laws of human life, the proper thing would be to accept it with good grace, but it is absolutely opposed to all natural laws. This sacrifice of life occurs because we ignore the laws or live contrary to them, instead of getting into harmony with the cosmic currents.

Man can conquer earth, water and air, but he can not overcome the laws of nature as applied to life. 11e has his choice: 1. He can live contrary to natural law, and consequently suffer and die prematurely. 2. Or he can learn the simple laws of nature, live accordingly and be repaid with good health, plenty of strength, and long life. There is no such thing as "breaking the laws of nature" We disregard the laws, and nature breaks us.

Then the question is : "Do I want to leave earth now when I ought to be at my best, or do I think enough of life to continue to live in health and in full possession of my physical and mental faculties?"

If the individual chooses to quit, there is nothing more to say. If he chooses to remain on earth, this is an invitation to him to learn how to do it.

The laws of long life are the laws of health. Though fairly simple these laws are not well known to the vast majority; a few understand them. To be healthy we have to think right and give our body proper care. Right thinking consists of using the mind courageously, hopefully and faithfully, looking forward with the firm faith, yes, knowledge that if we do our best we shall be fully rewarded, and have as many of the good things of life as we can reasonably expect.

The physical laws of health are based on the adjustment of the individual to his environment, so that all the parts and organs can function normally. This includes correct eating, drinking, breathing, physical activity, internal and external cleanliness, and proper balancing of work and rest and relaxation. It is very simple when one gets used to it. As you study this book, you may think, "That is all right, if one has time, but I have no time." It does not take much time to live correctly. With thirty minutes a day of special attention one can maintain health. If health is not worth thirty minutes a day, then life is indeed of small value. We make our own values. It is well to ponder the fact that those who are too busy to give themselves proper care are not permitted many years on earth. This kind of time saving is no time saving whatever, for it shortens life, and generally fills the last few years with discomfort and disease.

Those who live beyond the average age are often failures before they are sixty. They be-gin to think of themselves as old. They allow their bodies and their minds to grow hard and unbending. They become physically inactive and mentally ossified. Their advanced years are useless and unlovely.

This is needless. Let us pattern after those who have lived long, yet are interested in life, active in mind and body, and givers and recipients of joy and affection.

To remain young means to stay healthy, this further means to live long. Health intelligently preserved insures and assures long life. Accidents alone can intervene.

In times of old, disease was looked on as something coming from without : Evil spirits, or miasmas would overwhelm the individual; lethal humors would mysteriously develop; magic influences would bring disease and death: In other words, some external agent would cause disease and death, but the individual was blameless. If he lived long and well he was most fortunate. If he suffered he was unfortunate, but through no fault of his own. This was a comforting doctrine, for it left the individual without blame or responsibility for his misdeeds. If this fallacy were dead, we could say "pax," and let it go at that. But the doctrine is still alive, still subscribed to by the vast majority. The external agencies have changed, however. We no more subscribe to the theories of magic, demons, miasmas and humors —at least very few of us do; but we might as well if we live in fear of germs (bacteria). The germ theory is at present a serious affliction. Of course there are germs, millions and billions of them wherever human life exists. No human being could live without these tiny organisms. But the germ theory presents these microscopic beings in the form of Omens that prey on us and do us to death. We might let it pass if it did no harm, but the germ theory fills people with fear, and fear is one of the deadly emotions. Let us briefly state the place of germs (bacteria) in the scheme of things.

If there is repetition in another chapter on this subject, it is intentional for it is important to free the mind from the oppression of this theory.

Bacteria are absolutely necessary for the growth and development of complex life, or what is generally called the higher forms of life. The bacteria help to break down sub-stances that the higher animals can not use, and they rebuild them into substances that can be digested and made into blood. The nitrifying bacteria, for example, build protein for the pea family and for other legumes. Other bacteria break down. waste matters and resolve them into their elements again. All animal bodies are invaded by swarms of bacteria soon after death, and the soft structures are turned into oxygen, hydrogen, and other simplified forms of matter, which prevents the earth from being cluttered with the forms of dead animals, and furnishes fertility to the soil. Other bacteria enter inflamed and diseased parts of the body, trying to break down the diseased structures so that the blood can carry them away and expel them from the body. In other words, the disease comes first, and then the bacteria arrive on the scene and multiply and do their best to break down the diseased structures, so that they can be removed from the body. Be-cause bacteria are freely present in some dis-eased conditions, especially inflammatory processes, they have been given as the cause of these processes. They are more effect than cause. If a person gives himself proper care bacteria will never cause trouble. If the germs are forced into the blood through accidents or operations, and th' wound is closed so there is no drainage, then trouble can ensue, in the form of localized or generalized blood poisoning.

But it is not true that a man can be healthy one day and the next day be invaded and made ill by the bacillus tuberculosis, the bacillus typhosus, the pneumococcus, the bacterium of influenza, or any of the rest of the so-called pathogenic bacteria. The body becomes abnormal (ill) first, and then the great multiplication of germs follows.

In the past humanity has relied largely on drugs for the cure of disease. Please forget what you have been told about drugs, and ask yourself : "If I had not been taught that drugs have curative virtues, would I believe in them?" The answer would in nearly every instance be, No. What can drugs do? They can cause sedation, or stimulation of the body; they can relieve pain. But they never have cured and never will cure anything. There is much difference between relief and cure. Strychnin can stimulate the body for a few hours, but it can not add any strength to the body. The after effect is depression. If the user wishes to keep stimulated at all times he has to take more and more strychnin until he finally takes enough to injure himself, or perhaps to cause premature death. So it is with all drugs. If they are powerful they can produce a temporary effect, but there is not a drug to be found that has a permanently good effect. Nearly all drugs are injurious if taken long or in large doses. The less we rely on drugs and other remedies (such as serums, bacterius, antitoxins and other biologic products) the better are our chances of outwitting old age.

What helps to build health, and beauty, and prolong youth is what we do for ourselves : In brief, the constructive way in which we use the mind and the correct manner in which we take care of the body.

Do not let prejudices of the past occupy the mind. Let the light of truth shine so as to guide you to a healthy life, thus prolonging your years of vigor and productivity.

How long can a human being live? Nobody knows, for nobody has made an intelligent attempt to live long with our present knowledge. We can not place a human being on a strictly material basis, but I shall make this biologic observation: Scientists have found that animals generally live five times as long as their period of growth. On the physical side man is governed by the same laws that rule other animals. The average period required for a human being to reach full physical maturity is twenty-five years, so he ought to be able to live to be at least 125 years old, in possession of physical strength and mental vigor.

But why make limitations? We are now doing what used to be impossible, and nobody knows what he can do until he makes an honest, intelligent endeavor. Many lose interest in life, and do not care to live. In that condition there is no object in prolonging life. But if a person retains his physical and mental faculties, why can't he make life enjoyable and interesting and well worth living? He can.

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