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difference which in fact produce the unsanitary conditions to be complained of.
Doubtless, that branch of the subject which deals with sewage, all manner of feculence, plumbing, and the like, may be interesting and at any rate necessary as a subject for immediate consideration and action, at proper times and places. But it is rather to the larger meanings of the word that consideration should be here given, in this forum of evolution, since it does not accept unsanitary conditions as inevitable and permanent and proclaims the law and philosophy of their permanent removal or gradual and continuous improvement.
It is here our peculiar purpose and function to apply evolutionary principles in teaching Life-meaning thereby sound and healthy living-in all their proper fields, relations and domains of application, including society, as being an organism, and therefore subject to the laws of life.
It has been said heretofore that where in the earlier beginnings promise and potency of life were discernible in matter, there might be found the promise and. potency of a system of ethics or of conduct of life. So, from the very beginnings of life, and constantly therewith from the earliest stages, are to be found evidences of adequate sanity and sanitation in the conduct of life.* In fact, a principal factor, instrument or means in the process of natural selection is to be found in natural sanitation and its laws, as a part of and in the whole of physics back to its beginnings, even in gravitation, the effect of which sooner or later is to destroy all life that will not conform to the laws of health, considered from the preventive point of view, and to strengthen, enlarge and develop that which does conform thereto.
It is not, of course, to be understood that the curative function is not one of the expedients of nature. But the curative function of nature never is performed in such a way as to cultivate, repeat and perpetuate the thing sought to be cured and the process of curing. This last is the method of ordinary sanitation and therefore has in it an element of criminality, in view of the perpetuated reign of sickness and death that follows.
*The Land Problem. Man and the State, B. E. A.
Concealment and obliteration, or complete restoration, are parts of the plan or method of nature's curative processes.
A study of the life and history of all plants distinctly shows sanitary action and function co-ordinated everywhere in their lives, and in their self-conduct, infinite almost as those lives are in variety of conditions relating to air, temperature, seasons, moisture, elevation, and other matters of environment, and also in possibilities as already disclosed to our feeble vision. Trees rupture and throw off the outer bark when it becomes useless and an incumbrance, or retain it when needed; they protect their buds from the injurious effects of severe cold and too much moisture; they protect themselves from drought by sending their rootlets by the way of cracks. made in the earth by drought, deeper down into the earth where water may be found; taking advantage of the effect of the wind upon their branches, they rock to and fro and loosen up the earth, thereby enabling their roots to penetrate still further and further, and securing increased stability, and protection from overthrow by severe winds. They send out lateral and tap roots as required by conditions of soil, strata and water below the surface, furnishing models for lighthouses and other structures subject to stress of all kinds. They respire, that is, take in and throw out air, voiding and disposing of excreta in such ways as not to poison themselves. Evergreen trees protect themselves from climatic severities by appropriate variations in form, structure, condition and location of branches and leaves; they deposit their leaves over the ground beneath them, thereby protecting their roots as with a mat in winter as well as fertilizing the earth, aiding the production of humus, which performs the office of nitrification, and preparing their food for other seasons to come, with sanitary economy and avoidance of waste. Shading the ground thereby and keeping it cool, they make of the earth about them a condenser and an absorber of moisture and injurious gases from the atmosphere, to be later appropriated by their roots and digested
as tree food. They in fact purify the air, supply it with oxygen, make it fit for respiration by higher orders of animal life and set a fine example of sanitation to men and boards of health. In fact, plants and trees seem not only to adopt preliminary sanitary expedients, but to almost if not quite make inventions for self-protection and development that not even a Patent Office Examiner could reject, either for want of invention or because they would work injury to things, men or society. Deciduous trees wisely give up the unequal contest, shed their leaves, retire and store their sap or circulatory fluid below the earth's surface, and make ready to meet winter cold and avoid its disastrous effects, relying confidently upon the promise of a returning spring.
Animals intelligently and persistently search out infinite preventive sanitary ways of living and of conducting themselves under myriad variations of conditions, habitat and other surroundings; and when left alone by man, they not only find out ways that are conducive to longevity and enjoyment of life, but those that are conducive to fullness of development and to the highest possibilities in the direction of beauty and grace, as well as of efficiency and preservation. Cataclysmic destruction may overtake plant and animal life, but in few instances, if ever, do they poison themselves to death, or create diseases and pestilences by their own unwise conduct of their lives. Such follies they seem to leave to man.
Both plants and animals perform with perfect fidelity their correlated parts and functions with man and society, from lowest to highest stages of development. With such fidelity is this done, that where they seem to fail and go wrong the implication immediately arises in positive force that somehow, somewhere, man is himself the culprit, and not these his truest friends.
Attempts have been made to give a definitive description of man, as by calling him a two-legged animal without feathers, and in various other ways, some satirical, some serious; but perhaps as accurate a description as any would be to define man as the one and only unsanitary living thing, the one who alone destroys himself by filth of his own creation, serenely and
stupidly poisoning the water he drinks, the air he breathes, the food he eats, the clothing he wears, the houses, cities and country in which he dwells, and, in fact, every material element that goes to make up his substance, life and surroundings, each with its own special poison. That work being thoroughly done, his home and surroundings having been made unsanitary and uninhabitable, he straightway sets himself to puzzling over problems of divine malignance, particularly when his children, and other dear ones, die of disease he has himself promoted; frequently ending with the unctuous but sad worship of a deformed deity, the creation of his own ignorance and folly so great as to show that, unlike the ox and the ass, he knoweth neither his master nor his master's crib. Such is his perverse wrongheadedness, that when he sets himself to seek and produce prosperity and wealth he goes about and pursues his plans for it in such a way as inevitably to produce poverty and all that poverty implies, either for himself or for his children.
However much of a pathetic or criminal burlesque artificial and curative sanitation that promotes and perpetuates unsanitary conditions may be, it is instructive, consoling and restful to watch in all directions the operation of preventive natural sanitation. By the aid of solar energy, the water of the swamp and the cesspool is vaporized, purified, transported, distributed and eventually deposited where it will do the most good on the face of the earth. Being deposited, it finds out myriad plants and their rootlets, following down the leaves, the branches, the stems, the trunks, into the earth, where it furnishes the plant with its medium of circulation and life development; and in co-operation with soils of different characters produced by geologic action, it percolates and purifies, and even when thrown upon the absorbent earth in a filthy condition, it facilitates absorption of impurities by the earth and thereby becomes purified and again fit for use, while enriching the soil with supplies of plant food, and conserving the elements of life used again and again and then still handed down through the cycles of time by and through myriad generations of lower forms of life, for eventual repeated use by those of ever higher and
higher forms. In so doing the very humblest forms of life have their parts to perform in the preservation of empires, races and civilizations; and they do perform them with absolute fidelity.
The atmosphere also has its own sanitary methods of action, under the influence of solar energy and otherwise. There is an action of the outer air something like respiration. The very earth itself breathes, teems and lives. Not only does the action of the sun expand the air and give it motion around the earth as it revolves, but under the same influence, when the earth cools at night it draws in air to very considerable depths and throws it out when warmed by the sun, with respiratory effects; and it probably does so even where the surface is composed of stratified rock, since rocks are porous and there is a pressure of atmosphere thereon of something like fifteen pounds to the square inch.
The word pneuma, meaning air, breath, also signifies the spirit, the principle of life, and it is a means of life to the earth as well as to man, animals and plants.
When the functions of life cease, alike among animals and among plants, air, water, heat and the soil unite in a natural system of disinfection by oxidation, nitrification, absorption and in other ways, immediately and without the aid of any alleged sanitary functionary or board of health whatever.
If nature, or cosmic law and process, were allowed to have their way and our obedient co-operation, sanitation would be perfect, disease and premature death would disappear, along with all dire misery in all forms of life, human, animal and plant, and also with all war and vice.
But the moment we approach and inspect human life and its operations we detect a marked change of attitude and action, and a distinct failure of comprehension, fidelity and performance permeating them throughout.
From the laying of the keel of a ship to its final stranding on some lone foreign shore or its dismantlement on some mud flat in distant years, not a single moment of watchful care, seeking to keep the water of its element out of the ship, can be safely missed, without sending the ship to the bottom; and even then every ship leaks more or less.