Bodily ills are no different from our other troubles. In case of doubt as to their origin, it is far more convenient to blame some supernatural source for them than to take the blame upon ourselves. In support of this, take the attitude of employers toward strikes and lockouts, their most outbreaking and violent troubles. These are named in all of our contracts along with lightning, tornadoes, floods, and other “acts of God,” if not directly, at least by inference It is plain enough, at any rate, that those who draw up the contract consider strikes and lockouts as wholly outside of their control, as they do the elements. It is the same old ignorance, the same desire to shift the blame.
WHO IS TO BLAME?
Modern business common sense counts strikes and lockouts among preventable industrial diseases, just as the modern science of medicine classes smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid fever, the plague, tuberculosis, and the hookworm amongst preventable bodily diseases. The strike is a violent eruption, according to those who have made the closest study of the situation, resulting from long-continued abuses of bad management, bad selection, bad assignment of duties, and other vicious or ignorant practices. So a fever is a kind of physical house cleaning for the removal of debris of months or even years of foolish living.
But persistent violation of the laws of health does not always lead to acute disease. Seated in the office of a prominent and successful physician in a Western city one day, we were discussing with him the true nature of disease. “My patients,” said he, “many of them are now lying on beds of pain, burning with fever. They are called sick people. The folks walking along the street out there are called well people. The terms are inaccurate. Fever is the effort of nature to throw off poisons, poisons which have been accumulating in the system for years as the result of wrong ways of living. Many people suppose that fevers are caused by germs. This is not true. No germ can harm or disturb a healthy body. It is only when the body is depleted in vitality that its defenses come down and germs find a ready soil in which to propagate. People who have fevers, therefore, are only taking a violent manner of getting well, and, if wisely treated and intelligently nursed, they do get well. As you know, it is a very common experience for a person to feel far better after recovery from a spell of sickness than he has for years previously. Now, nine out of ten of the people going along the street who call themselves well are not well. The majority of them are probably only 25 per cent, efficient physically. They are loaded up with the debilitating consequences of their own recklessness or ignorant manner of living.”