AMONG men and women the desire to cure is universal. If a man complains about his health all his friends and acquaintances are anxious to offer advice or to render active help. If a clerk in an office has an atrocious headache one of his colleagues will immediately offer him aspirin or some other headache remedy, another will suggest that a hot foot bath might relieve him, a third will recommend a drastic purgative, a fourth will recommend a fast, a fifth may hand him a prescription which he has been given by a doctor.
If women meet one another at tea they frequently talk about their health, and each tries to be helpful, whatever ailments are complained of.
It is obviously a natural instinct among men to help their suffering brothers and sisters. Besides, men like to treat themselves. They try this remedy and that, experiment with diets, experiment with healthful exercises, etc., and the columns in the papers which contain health hints are particularly popular.
Those who wish to heal themselves and others should remember that the art and science of healing requires peculiar qualifications. It requires natural gifts such as sympathy, understanding, strength of character,etc., and it also needs a great deal of practical knowledge. There is no mystery about the art of healing. It can be learned by everyone, whether he has passed the orthodox course of study or not.
Those who wish to cure others and themselves should read books dealing with medical matters, but they should not read theoretical books written in an almost understandable language. Those writers who try to make a mystery of the art of healing do not wish to explain but to mystify. Very frequently writers on the art of healing know nothing about the subject on which they presume to write.
The first thing which should be studied by those who feel the strong urge to heal is the causation of disease. If they read certain textbooks on medicine it would appear that diseases are caused by disease organisms, by micro-organisms, and orthodox medicine endeavours to discover the microbic causation of disease and to deal with the guilty organism by the usual subcutaneous treatments.
The idea that most diseases, or all diseases, are due to various organisms, the existence of which can be ascertained with the help of the microscope and the test tube, is mistaken. Most diseases are caused by our own faults and mistakes.
When we read that thousands of people die in Central Africa of typhoid and other dirt diseases, of starvation, from foul water, exposure, from septic wounds, from ulcers and abscesses and so forth, we realize immediately that all these diseases are avoidable, that thousands of lives have been unnecessarily sacrificed because the primitive races do not know how to obtain wholesome water, do not know how to defend themselves against noxious insects, snakes, etc., and we say to ourselves that the mortality in those far away countries might be reduced to half, or less, if the people were provided with healthy water, drainage of swamps and of houses, if the breeding places of mosquitoes were dealt with, if the authorities took care that there should be sufficient wholesome food etc.
In the case of savages we realize that disease is not a mystery, but is due to lack of knowledge on the part of man. Savages will probably express among themselves similar opinions when they notice that the Europeans living among them have artificial teeth, take pills and liquid medicines to enable them to digest their food and to excrete it, that they have to prop up their bodies with steel arches to support their feet, with surgical belts and rupture pads to support their abdomens, and that nevertheless they are victims of countless health troubles.
They will say among themselves: “It is curious that these white men who employ an army of doctors, surgeons, dentists, chemists, etc. to keep them in health are permanently ailing, are frequently seriously ill, undergo countless operations and seem never to enjoy perfect health”.
We are far wiser in looking after animals than in looking after ourselves. We keep animals and birds of every kind. Very few people who keep animals and birds are unwise enough to feed and house them scientifically in accordance with the ideas of medical men. We give to our animals the simplest housing and the simplest food.
We give approximately the same bedding to a carthorse worth L5 and to a racehorse worth L5,000 or more, and we give them approximately the same stabling. Further, the carthorse worth L5 and the racehorse worth L5,000 are given the same oats, hay, grass, bran, green fodder, water, etc., and occasionally they are given by their keepers as a treat some carrots, apples, or a piece of sugar. Many horses are sensible enough to refuse white sugar.