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COLLATERAL READINGS SUGGESTED.
Gardiner's Longevity; Gerhard's Architecture and Sanitation; Shoemaker's Heredity, Health and Personal Beauty; White's "From Fetich to Hygiene" (Popular Science Monthly, 1891, pp. 433, 600), and "Miracles and Medicine," (Ibid., pp. 1, 145) in Chapters in the Warfare of Science; Corfield's Health; Teale's Dangers to Health; Johnston's The Chemistry of Common Life; Richardson's A Ministry of Health, and Diseases of Modern Life; Oswald's Physical Education; Tyndall's Essays on Floating Matter in the Air; Smith's Health; Martin's The Human Body.
BY JAMES A. SKILTON.
Our topic has two distinct, clearly definable and separable aspects, one practical and suited to the present imperfect and faulty stage of human and societary development, and the other suited to all normally progressive stages of development to whatever attainable, theoretical, or evolutionary extent. The promises and prospects of the first are the decay and ruin of men and society; those of the other are their progress and prosperity continued from age to age.
Not only in the minds of individuals, however, but also in the public mind generally, and even in the dictionaries, there seems to be confusion and misunderstanding as to the true meaning of the words sanitation and sanatory. The same is true as to the scope, relations and applications of the topics they are used to characterize and define.
To the large majority both of these words and their subjects are believed to have to do with cure, remedy and disinfection after infection, rather than with prevention. This implies that in our world unsanitary conditions are to be accepted as absolute, normal, inevitable and eternal or æonic. Consequently, we have at the outset the disadvantage of dealing with a state of mind that erroneously takes it for granted that the race is afflicted with conditions that it must necessarily and always have with it to the end of time and things.
This raises the preliminary question whether the human mind is not the first and most important object of disinfection and sanitation.
Pity it is that this is true, notwithstanding it has been the function of the gospels of the ages, and is the essential function of the evolution gospel of the present age, to banish that error from the human mind. Still it not only lingers, but remains dominant, every
where blocking the way of all progress. Nevertheless, unsanitary conditions represent only human blunders. and ignorance, and are therefore neither normal, inevitable, or æonic. But still they are the symptoms of widespread organic disease in the social body in which they exist, that is certain to be fatal in time, unless the unsanitary conditions are removed by the restoration of organic health through obedience to cosmic law.
The root idea of both these words, relatively considered, refers to soundness, health, sanity, saneness, wholeness, and covers soundness, wholeness or health of body, mind, function, and all the action of organic life. The confusions of understanding seem to have arisen in part from the fact at the word sanatory is derived from the verb meaning to heal or to make sound, to cure; while the word sanitary is derived from the adjective sanus, meaning sound, by the way of the noun sanitas, meaning health, soundness, wholeness.
But a larger and more persistent cause-one that has had an active part in producing these confusions-is to be found in that theological poison, born of ignorance, limitation and despair, which has been handed down to and still powerfully infects and affects the modern human mind, seemingly almost beyond any power of disinfection, that nature is everywhere vile, destructive, and to be either conquered and suppressed, or safely ignored as well as despised and discouraged.
Thus the very words come to us with effects as if they still reeked with the slime of the sewers and cesspools they seem to be relegated to and to make use of as their fit places of abode.
Nevertheless, sanitation relates, among other things, to the atmosphere, earth, water, food, clothing, shelter, structural variation, work, gravitation, solar energy, and even human labor; each and all of which have to do with and are affected by sanitary principles and practice, not only, but also have an automatic and characteristic system and capacity of sanitation constantly working in and with them as a part of their very natures and methods of action, independently and without human intervention, and, indeed, in spite of the unwise and negligent human interference and in