When we agree with the Palmist that “we are fearfully and wonderfully made,” it is our fearful liability to break down or get out of order that we are chiefly thinking of. Perhaps this is but natural, for it is always the evil in things that most sharply impresses us. Comfort is a passive, hazy sort of sensation compared with the clear-cut acuteness of pain.
Health will take care of itself, disease must be cured at once if possible. A healthy man doesnt know he has such a thing as a stomach; a dyspeptic doesnt know that he has anything else. Hence pain is a great educator, the chief spur to investigation. If there were no suffering there be no medicine, no anatomy even; pathology is the starting-point of physiology. So long as all goes well and smoothly we care nothing about our interior make-up, but let “dys-” anything develop, and the digging and probing begins at once.
Does not this state of affairs have a strong, though unconscious, influence upon our mental attitude as a profession toward the human machine? We are kept so continually engaged in patching and tinkering at it that we are in danger of coming to look upon it as a bundle of defects. The laryngologist declares that a healthy (or artistically symmetrical) nose or throat is rare; the gynecologist deplores the faulty plan of construction of the uterus and vagina; the oculist announces that a “normal eye is to be found only in the text-books; and the bacteriologist regards the human body merely as a congenial culture-medium for the Klebs-Loeffler and the adult one for the Eberth bacillus.
We are prone to rare our patients much as Falstaff did his recruits, “Tush, tush; mortal men, food for powder, food for powder!” only the grains of our “powder” are alive and wiggle, and assume a variety of comma-shapes. Even as sanitarians, we seem to delight in populating the heavens above, the waters, the earth beneath, the dust of our streets, the food of our tables, with hosts and swarms of tiny savages to whom the human body is a helpless prey whenever pounced upon. Existence would be impossible but for germicides, say we. It is positively dangerous to be alive!.
In short, we often forget that the human body is not a pulpy victim of circumstances, but the toughest, most resisting, most marvellously adaptable, and most ferocious organism that the sun shines upon. It can flourish where nothing else can, and fatten on a diet of any other organism that be mentioned, not excepting the pathogenic bacilli.
Man is physically the finest, most dangerous animal in the world. There is not a bird or beast or even fish that he cant beat at his own game, if he sets himself about it. Club or sword in hand, man is a match for the most ferocious beast of prey in a fair stand-up fight, and the club or its descendant is as much a part of us as our bones or skin; but for it we should never have allowed our teeth and claws to degenerate into such feeble objects.
Its use has made us right-handed, right-handedness has specialized the cortex to such a degree that speech was possible, and speech makes thought possible. So that our mental superiority is purely an outgrowth and a part of our muscular superiority. In the language of Tommy Atkins in Kiplings ballad, homo sapiens is “a pore benighted heathen, but a first-class fighting-man,” and two-thirds of his virtues, moral, physical, and mental, are the fruits there of. And yet we talk of him professionally as if he were a clam without a shell.
In the second place, there is no known organism that can defy the elements as he can. Any zoologist will tell you that no other mammal and no bird has one-half the geographic range that the human species has. His faithful friend, the dog, will accompany him almost anywhere, but only by having his food, shelter, and even clothing provided for him by the superior species. Much of this faculty is of course due to mans power of constructing shelter and clothing for himself, but still more to his world-wide range of food materials. Look at him in the tropics, subsisting on rice and fruits; in the Arctic regions, gorging upon seal-meat and whale-blubber. His instincts meet the situation.
The same toughness and faculty of adjustment manifest themselves even more strongly when we come to consider the unfavorable environment in which man places himself in the various occupations of civilized life and the strain of its surroundings. Scarcely a trade or occupation can be mentioned in which most of those engaged in it are not vigorous, healthy, and long-lived.
We speak of “occupational diseases;” it is true there are such, but none of them ever affects more than a small percentage of those engaged. Even when they occur they are symptoms of lowered vitality, either local or general, on the part of the sufferer in most cases. Many of them can be avoided entirely by cleanliness and observance of the ordinary laws of heath. Of all occupations probably none has had a blacker reputation for unhealthfulness, both popularly and professionally, than that of the coal miner.
With all the hazards the miners have had to undergo, such as working in an atmosphere foul with coal dust, fire damp (CH4), “choke-damp” (CO2), and powder-smoke, exposed to the most frightful accidents by explosions, by water, by falling rock, surely no mortal organism can long resist the pressure. Further, wages with miners until recently were so irregular that life with them was generally “either a feast or a famine,” and so we wonder that the breed didnt become extinct.
But investigations have shown evidence which is against the idea that coal-mining is an unhealthy occupation. That veteran gladiator, the human body, has risen to the emergency again and conquered just as it used to do in the ages when it lived on bear-meat and ground-nuts by choice, mussels and sea-weed by necessity, and sucked its paws when it could get neither.
We find the refuse-sorter, the tanner, the hide-scraper, and the soap-renderer literally spend their lives amid the most offensive odors and putrefying materials, and yet their mortality rate is scarcely perceptibly heightened thereby. The workers in our foundries, our smelters, and our engine-rooms live at terrific temperatures for hours at a stretch with comparative impunity. In fact, man can accustom himself to work with safety and even comfort at almost any temperature, pressure, degree of moisture or dryness, in almost any position or atmosphere, providing he is reasonably well fed and housed, and maintains a fair general condition of health.
And it is well for our bacteriologic brethren, indeed, for all of us, to remember that the toughness and resisting power of the human body are just as great against disease and all its germs as against any other unfavorable influence; that the fixed cells of our bodies are to the deadliest bacilli as a regiment of highly trained soldiers to a bunch of new recruits; that the hottest place a disease germ can get into is a healthy bronchus or stomach.
Our chief aim in the cure of disease should ever be to “give Nature a chance.” And let me say that in any estimation no form of medication can better aid Nature in her endeavor to right the wrongs of diseased bodies than that of homoeopathy. At our disposal are hundreds of remedies and through their attenuation such are made suitable for subtle use by the facilities of diseased organs and tissues.
Now on the threshold of my eighty-fifth birthday Dr. Mather celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday on March 16, 1943. and still serving the sick and suffering through homoeopathic medication I am glad to have enjoyed early training in homoeopathy and of making the many friends our Institute and state associations have afforded. My earnest hope is that we may continue to aim at the bigger hopes that I know dwell within us and that our sun will be brighter with the brighter future we are hoping and striving for in this great conflict our United Nations are engaged in. May God bless homoeopathy and its physicians in their ceaseless endeavor to right the wrongs of diseased bodies.
MOUNT CLEMENS, MICH.