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THE SCIENCE OF CONTROLLABLE ENVIRONMENT
A PLEA FOR BETTER LIVING CONDITIONS AS A FIRST STEP TOWARD HIGHER HUMAN EFFICIENCY
The national annual unnecessary loss of capitalized net earnings is about $1,000,000,000.
Report on National Vitality
By ELLEN H. RICHARDS Author of Cost of Living Series, Art of Right Living, etc.
WHITCOMB & BARROWS BOSTON, 1912
COPYRIGHT 1910 BY ELLEN H. RICHARDS
THOMAS TODD CO., PRINTERS 14 BEACON ST., BOSTON
Never has society been so clear as to its several special ends, never has so little effort been due to chance or compulsion.
Ralph Barton Perry, The Moral Economy.
Not through chance, but through increase of scientific knowledge; not through compulsion, but through democratic idealism consciously working through common interests, will be brought about the creation of right conditions, the control of environment.
The betterment of living conditions, through conscious endeavor, for the purpose of securing efficient human beings, is what the author means by EUTHENICS.
 Eutheneo, [Greek: Euthêneô] (eu, well; the, root of tithemi, to cause). To be in a flourishing state, to abound in, to prosper.--Demosthenes. To be strong or vigorous.--Herodotus. To be vigorous in body.--Aristotle.
Euthenia, [Greek: Euthênia]. Good state of the body: prosperity, good fortune, abundance.--Herodotus.
"Human vitality depends upon two primary conditions--heredity and hygiene--or conditions preceding birth and conditions during life."
 Report on National Vitality, p. 49.
Eugenics deals with race improvement through heredity.
Euthenics deals with race improvement through environment.
Eugenics is hygiene for the future generations.
Euthenics is hygiene for the present generation.
Eugenics must await careful investigation.
Euthenics has immediate opportunity.
Euthenics precedes eugenics, developing better men now, and thus inevitably creating a better race of men in the future. Euthenics is the term proposed for the preliminary science on which Eugenics must be based.
This new science seeks to emphasize the immediate duty of man to better his conditions by availing himself of knowledge already at hand. As far as in him lies he must make application of this knowledge to secure his greatest efficiency under conditions which he can create or under such existing conditions as he may not be able wholly to control, but such as he may modify. The knowledge of the causes of disease tends only to depress the average citizen rather than to arouse him to combat it. Hope of success will urge him forward, and it is the duty of lovers of mankind to show all possible ways of attaining the goal. The tendency to hopelessness retards reformation and regeneration, and the lack of belief in success holds back the wheels of progress.
Euthenics is to be developed:
1. Through sanitary science. 2. Through education. 3. Through relating science and education to life.
Students of sanitary science discover for us the laws which make for health and the prevention of disease. The laboratory has been studying conditions and causes, and now can show the way to many remedies.
A knowledge of these laws, of the means of conserving man's resources and vitality, which will result in the wealth of human energy, is more and more brought within the reach of all by various educational agencies.
The individual must estimate properly the value of this knowledge in its application to daily life, in order to secure efficiency and the greatest happiness for himself and for the community.
Right living conditions comprise pure food and a safe water supply, a clean and disease-free atmosphere in which to live and work, proper shelter, and the adjustment of work, rest, and amusement. The attainment of these conditions calls for hearty coöperation between individual and community--effort on the part of the individual because the individual makes personality a power; effort on the part of the community because the strength of combined endeavor is required to meet all great problems.
BETTER ENVIRONMENT FOR THE HUMAN RACE
I. The opportunity for betterment is real and practical, not merely academic 3
II. Individual effort is needed to improve individual conditions. Home and habits of living, eating, etc. Good habits pay in economy of time and force 15
III. Community effort is needed to make better conditions for all, in streets and public places, for water and milk supply, hospitals, markets, housing problems, etc. Restraint for sake of neighbors 39
IV. Interchangeableness of these two forms of progressive effort. First one, then the other ahead 59
V. The child to be "raised" as he should be. Restraint for his good. Teaching good habits the chief duty of the family 73
VI. The child to be educated in the light of sanitary science. Office of the school. Domestic science for girls. Applied science. The duty of the higher education. Research needed 91
VII. Stimulative education for adults. Books, newspapers, lectures, working models, museums, exhibits, moving pictures 117
VIII. Both child and adult to be protected from their own ignorance. Educative value of law and of fines for disobedience. Compulsory sanitation by municipal, state, and federal regulations. Instructive inspection 131
IX. There is responsibility as well as opportunity. The housewife an important factor and an economic force in improving the national health and increasing the national wealth 143
The opportunity for betterment is real and practical, not merely academic.
Men ignore Nature's laws in their personal lives. They crave a larger measure of goodness and happiness, and yet in their choice of dwelling places, in their building of houses to live in, in their selection of food and drink, in their clothing of their bodies, in their choice of occupations and amusements, in their methods and habits of work, they disregard natural laws and impose upon themselves conditions that make their ideals of goodness and happiness impossible of attainment.
Prof. George E. Dawson, The Control of Life through Environment.
And is it, I ask, an unworthy ambition for man to set before himself to understand those eternal laws upon which his happiness, his prosperity, his very life depend? Is he to be blamed and anathematized for endeavoring to fulfill the divine injunction: "Fear God and keep His commandments, for that is the whole duty of man"? Before he can keep them, surely he must first ascertain what they are.
Adam Sedgwick. Address, Imperial College of Science and Technology, December 16, 1909. Nature, December 23, 1909, p. 228.
In my judgment, the situation is hopeful. To realize that our problems are chiefly those of environment which we in increasing measure control, to realize that, no matter how bad the environment of this generation, the next is not injured provided that it be given favorable conditions, is surely to have an optimistic view.
Carl Kelsey, Influence of Heredity and Environment upon Race Improvement. Annals of American Academy of Political and Social Science, July, 1909.
It is within the power of every living man to rid himself of every parasitic disease. Pasteur.
Such facts as the following, showing the increase in health, or rather the decrease in disease, go to prove what may be done.
Since 1882, tuberculosis has decreased forty-nine per cent; typhoid, thirty-nine per cent. Statistics in regard to heart disease and other troubles under personal control, however, show increase--kidney disease, 131 per cent; heart disease, fifty-seven per cent; apoplexy, eighty-four per cent. This means that infectious and contagious diseases, of which the State has taken cognizance and to the suppression of which it has applied known laws of science, have been brought under control, and their existence today is due only to the carelessness or the ignorance of individuals.
On the other hand, such results of improper personal living as do not come under legal control--diseases of the heart, kidneys, and general degeneration, matters of personal hygiene--have so enormously increased as in themselves to show the attitude of mind of the great mass of the people, "Let us eat and drink and be merry, what if we do die tomorrow!"
Probably not more than twenty-five per cent in any community are doing a full day's work such as they would be capable of doing if they were in perfect health. This adds to the length of the school course, to the cost of production in all directions, to increased taxation, and decreases interest in daily life.
The trouble is that the public does not believe in this waste which comes from being "just poorly" or "just so as to be about." It has no conception of the difference between working with a clear brain and a steady hand, and working with a dull and nerveless tool. It must be convinced of this in some way. General warnings have been ineffective, and now the appeal is being made to the American people on the basis of money loss. Thus it has been carefully estimated that the average economic value of an inhabitant of the United States is $2,900. The vital statistics of the United States for population give 85,500,000. Eighty-five million five hundred thousand multiplied by $2,900 equals $250,000,000,000 (minimum estimate), and this exceeds the value of all other wealth. The actual economic saving possible annually in this country by preventing needless deaths, needless illness, and needless fatigue is certainly far greater than $1,500,000,000, and may be three or four times as great.
Dr. George M. Gould estimated that sickness and death in the United States cost $3,000,000,000 annually, of which at least one-third is regarded as preventable.
From all sides comes testimony to the decrease in personal efficiency of workers of all degrees. Medical science has prolonged life, hospitals and visiting nurses have made sickness less distressful, but have also in many cases prolonged the time and increased the cost. Sanitary science aims to prevent the beginnings of sickness, and so to eliminate much of the expense.
The discovery that the mosquito is the carrying agent for the yellow fever germ has saved more lives annually than were lost in the Cuban War. In the yellow fever epidemic of 1872, the loss to the country was not less than $100,000,000 in gold.
"With our present population there are always about 3,000,000 persons in the United States on the sick list.... By means of Farr's table, we may calculate that very close to a third, or 1,000,000 persons, are in the working period of life. Assuming that average earnings in the working period are $700, and that only three-fourths of the 1,000,000 potential workers would be occupied, we find over $500,000,000 as the minimum loss of earnings.
"The cost of medical attendance, medicine and nursing, etc., is conjectured by Dr. Biggs in New York to be from $1.50 each per day for the consumptive poor to a greater amount for other diseases and classes. Applying this to the 3,000,000 years of illness annually experienced, we have $1,500,000,000 as the minimum annual cost of this kind.
"The statistics of the Commissioner of Labor show that the expenditure for illness and death amounts to twenty-seven dollars per family per annum. This is for workingmen's families only. But even this figure, if applied to the 17,000,000 families of the United States, would make the total bill caring for illness and death $460,000,000. The true cost may well be more than twice this sum. Certainly the estimate is more than safe, and is only one-third of the sum obtained by using Dr. Biggs's estimate. The sum of the costs of illness, including loss of wages and cost of care, is thus $460,000,000 plus $500,000,000 equals $960,000,000.... At least three-quarters of the costs are preventable."
 Report on National Vitality, p. 119.
The cost of certain preventable diseases a year is estimated by various authorities as:
Tuberculosis $1,000,000,000 Typhoid 250,000,000 Malaria 100,000,000 Other insect diseases 100,000,000
A hopeful sign of awakening is the endeavor by life insurance companies to bring home to the people the possibilities of race betterment. One company sends out among its policy holders trained nurses, who give plain talks on health subjects and offer practical suggestions as to hygienic living. This, to be sure, is on the economic basis of money saving, but if that is the only thing that will appeal to the people is it not wise to seize upon it as a lever to lift the standard of well-being?
The possibility of saving the enormous sums that are lost by reason of premature deaths was an alluring subject to the insurance men. It gave to the world what, up to that time, it had lacked--a body of powerful men who recognized that they had a financial interest in preventing the needless death of men and women.
A table has been prepared showing that if insurance companies were to expend $200,000 a year for the purely commercial object of reducing their death losses, and should thereby decrease them only twelve one-hundredths of one per cent, they would save enough to cover the expense.
"If such a plan as this were placed on a purely scientific basis and carried out by good business methods, and all the companies pulled together for the common good, I should expect a decrease in death claims of more than one per cent; and a decrease in the death claims of one per cent would mean that the companies would save more than eight times as much as they expended, or would make a net saving of more than seven times the expense, which would be about a million and a half dollars a year."
 Hiram J. Messenger, Travelers Insurance Co., Hartford, Conn.
"While it would be impossible to state in general terms how rich a return lies ready for public or private investments in good health, these examples (life insurance) show that the rate of this return is quite beyond the dreams of avarice. Were it possible for the public to realize this fact, motives both of economy and of humanity would dictate immediate and generous expenditure of public moneys for improving the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, as well as for eliminating the dangers of life and limb which now surround us."
 Report on National Vitality, p. 123.
Undoubtedly a moral force is to be strengthened by spreading the biological lesson that man cannot live to himself alone, but that his acts or failure to act affect a large number of his fellowmen. Also, a stimulus to personal ambition is to be supplied in the suggestion of better health and consequently more money to spend as a result.
Civic pride and private gain will be brought into the endeavor to show man that to understand himself, to exercise the same control over his activities that he uses over his machines, is to double his capacity, not only for work, but for pleasure. This control is now possible through the application of recently confirmed scientific knowledge as to man's environment.
It is the aim of this book to arouse the thinking portion of the community to the opportunity of the present moment for inculcating such standards of living as shall tend to the increase of health and happiness.
To the women of America has come an opportunity to put their education, their power of detailed work, and any initiative they may possess at the service of the State.
Faith, Hope, and Courage may be taken as the three potent watchwords of the New Crusade. There is a real contagion of ideas as well as of disease germs.
Individual effort is needed to improve individual conditions. Home and habits of living. Good habits pay in economy of time and force.
The hope is springing up in some minds that the entire problem of human regeneration will be much simplified when men shall have learned more fully the nature of their own lives, the nature of the physical world that environs them, and the interaction between this physical world and the spirit of man which is set to subdue it.
Prof. George E. Dawson, The Control of Life through Environment.
We create the evil as well as the good. Nature is impersonal. To an increasing degree man determines.
The only certain remedy for any disease is man's own vital power.
Today only an exceptional man, almost a genius, learns to modify his habits and his life to his environment and to triumph over his surroundings, his appetites, and the absurd dictates of fashion.
Richard Cole Newton, M.D., How Shall the Destructive Tendencies of Modern Life Be Met and Overcome?
We have certain inherent capacities as to bodily strength, length of life, etc., but it lies largely with ourselves to adopt a mode of life which may make an actual difference in height, weight, and physical strength and intellectual capacity.
E. H. Richards, Sanitation in Daily Life.
There are two recognized ways of improving the quality of human beings: one by giving them a better heredity--starting them in life with a stronger heart, better digestion, steadier nerves; the other by so combining the factors of daily life that even a weak heart may grow strong, a poor digestion may become good, and frayed nerves gain steadiness.
E. H. Richards, The Art of Right Living.
The relation of environment to man's efficiency is a vital consideration: how far it is responsible for his character, his views, and his health; what special elements in the environment are most potent and what are the most readily controlled, provided sufficient knowledge can be gained of the forces and conditions to be used.
To this end home life--in its relations to the child, the adult, and the community--is considered in connection with the effect on the home of the influences outside it, and the reaction of each on the other. These relations and influences are partly physical and material, partly ethical and psychical.
The right of the child is protection, and it is the responsibility of the adult--parent, teacher, or state officer--to secure this protection.
The knowledge that investigators are gaining in the laboratory and are trying to give to the community must be accepted and applied by the individual. How is the individual, discouraged by sickness and hardship, to know that things are awry or that they can be set more nearly straight? How can he know that he is responsible for his limitations? Why should he suppose that he need not be eternally a slave to environment? How can he realize that "health promotes efficiency by producing more energy and leaving it all free for useful purposes?" A few enlightened souls recognize the tendency of environment to kick the man that is down; to be subservient to the man of bodily and mental vigor, of keen understanding and human insight, but the majority must be led to believe these scientific principles.
Again and again scientists and humanitarians must return to the attack, for individual carelessness becomes community menace, and "line upon line and precept upon precept" they must present their knowledge in language that shall attract and hold the attention and fancy. So the work and discoveries of Metchnikoff have gained credence because the disciple who described them had the ability to impress on his audience in a convincing fashion the one fact that made a strong appeal--the possibility of long life. If those who are zealous for any movement would study the psychology of advertising and speak as forcefully as the legitimate advertiser, they would be more persuasive and successful.
When an idea has won in a certain circle, it quickly spreads to the other members, thence to active communities. So the universal law of imitation may be the greatest help in the spread of ideas. The individual eats a certain food because his neighbor does. Boston determines to make an effort for a better city because Chicago has felt the stirrings of civic pride.
A gifted individual with a deep sense of the need of his community sees an ideal condition, which by his thought becomes a possibility. These beliefs he shares with a few choice spirits till the circle has widened. The new ideas come to the notice of the city or the town officials, new means are adopted of educating the whole community, and, if necessary, legal measures are passed. But the new means to betterment must be applied by the individual. Beginning with the exceptional individual and ending with the average individual, the perfect circle is rounded out.
The leaders must show convincingly that the laws which they have discovered may be applied to daily life, but the individual himself must adopt them. When he has been saturated with knowledge, his inertia will break down, his hopelessness give way to its very antithesis, a strong hope for a better future. Every known method must be used by the laboratory to develop this hope into a belief wide enough to reach all members of every section of the community and deep enough to become a vital working principle. Only through a belief strong enough to ride over unbelief and inertia, a belief in the value of science for personal life strong enough to make a wise choice possible, can the will to obtain a better environment be developed. The belief in better things must be thoroughly impressed on the individual mind. Each individual must understand that it does affect him, that it is his concern, that he must give heed to his environment. Then he may have the will and make the effort to combat dangers to body and mind.
Today, belief is much more difficult than ever before because the dangers are unseen and insidious, and our enemies do not generally make an appeal through the senses of sight and hearing. But the dangers to modern life are no less than in the days of the pioneers, when a stockade was built as a defense from the Indians. We have no standards for safety. Our enemies are no longer Indians and wild animals. Those were the days of big things. Today is the day of the infinitely little. To see our cruelest enemies, we must use the microscope. Of all our dangers, that of uncleanness leads--uncleanness of food and water and air--uncleanness due to unsanitary production and storage, to exposure to street dust, or to cooking and serving of food in unclean vessels. Such conditions result not only in actual disease, but in lowered vitality and lessened work power.
Lack of knowledge on the part of some, heedlessness on the part of others who should be intelligent enough to interpret such conditions, are responsible for their continuance. A few timely suggestions will accomplish more in remedying many evils than any amount of attempted legal enforcement. The very fact of a law makes many persons defy it. They feel justified in showing their wit by outwitting the law's representatives. Many of our newer citizens have come to us from the protection (?) of a personal authority that they can see and feel. In this country of ours, we have taken away that binding regard for authority, and we must as far as possible lead rather than compel.
It is, after all, what a man determines for himself and for his family that affects both his views of life and his wish to secure for himself and for them that which he believes to be best. It is not what some other man believes for him that affects his life.
Evolution from within, not a dragging from outside, even if it is in the right direction, is the method of human development. Nevertheless, if the bale of hay is skillfully hung in front of the donkey's nose it will often serve to start the wheels on an easy road.
Evidence of the value of concerted effort by individuals and of the power of suggestion was given by a woman's club in a small town. The members became aware of the dangers in exposed food, and on investigation found their own market to be very low in standards of cleanness. At a certain meeting they agreed to ask the proprietor why he did not protect this and cover that article. Certain members were told off for the duty and the days agreed upon. Mrs. A., making her usual purchases, casually asked why such an article was not covered. "I never thought about it," was the answer. Mrs. B., the next day, asked why such an article was left out for the flies. "I never thought about the flies." Mrs. C. asked the same question on the third day. The proprietor said: "You're the third woman who has asked me that. No one ever suggested it before, but it would be a good idea." Before the end of two weeks the provisions and groceries were covered. The end had been gained without resort to coercion.
We know that our capacity for mental and bodily work depends on our supply of food. Proper food is necessary as a source of power for the work of the body as well as to furnish material for growth and repair of the losses of the body. Taking food is the most interesting of the vital processes. It appeals to all the senses (except hearing).
Professor Dawson calls attention to the fact that the richest food areas in the world have provided the most powerful stocks of men of which we have any record, and it has been pointed out by many that improper food is closely connected with mental and moral defects. Strong men and women are not the product of improper food. Dr. Stanley Hall says: "The necessity of judicious, wholesome food is paramount.... You can educate a long time by externals and not accomplish as much as good feeding will accomplish by itself. Children must be supplied with plenty of nutritious food if they are to develop healthily either in mind or body."
Mr. Robert Hunter says: "All that we are, either as individuals or as a complexly constituted society of men, is made possible by the food supply.... Perhaps more than any other condition of life it lies at the door of most of the social and mental inequalities among men."
In these days of irresponsibility there is probably more harm done to the health by ignoring physical law in the matter of eating than in any other one thing.
It is in the study of food substances and their possibilities in relation to better sanitary conditions that the widest field is open to housekeepers, and the subject should be especially fascinating to women of education and ability. All the skill and knowledge of the best educated women should be enlisted in the cause of better food for the people. Certainly no subject, except that of pure air, can have a closer bearing on the health than right diet. Much sound teaching will be needed before bad habits of eating and drinking will be conquered.
A strong, well man whose work is muscular and carried on in the open air, as is that of the farmer and of the fisherman, will have the power to assimilate almost anything, and can maintain abundant health on the coarsest food poorly prepared, provided, only, that it is abundant and composed of the chemical constituents that the body requires.
Only a small proportion of our people, however, engage in work of this sort. The majority are compelled by occupation, age, or health to remain indoors. For them nutritious, readily digested food is a requisite. The farmer or the fisherman can digest, even thrive upon, food which would be deadly for a woman working in a factory.
In the fourth report of the Massachusetts State Board of Health (1873), Dr. Derby, the secretary, holds that "we have good reason to believe that the many forms of dyspepsia which are so commonly met with among all classes in Massachusetts, in country quite as much as in town, are but too often the danger signal that Nature gives us to show that the food, either in its quality, or its preparation, or its variety, is unsuited to maintain the vital processes. If this warning is rejected, the result of malnutrition is frequently chronic disease of the so-called major class."
Sanitation in relation to food deals first with wholesome and clean materials--meat from animals free from disease; fruit and vegetables free from decay; milk, butter, etc., free from harmful bacteria. The dangers are the transference to the human body of encysted organisms like trichina; of the absorption of poisonous substances as toxins or ptomaines; of the lodgment of germs of disease along with dust on berries, rough peach skins, crushed-open fruits; of dirt clinging to lettuce, celery, and such vegetables as are eaten raw.
For the next class of dangers we turn to the handling of foods with unclean hands.
In countless ways disease is spread mysteriously, all due to unclean habits. It is a safe precaution to patronize only those restaurants in which the waiters are evidently trained to handle the food and vessels with care. It will pay well to take care of one's hands and learn sanitary habits when one is young; then one will do right without effort. Whatever change of ideas may come with increase of knowledge, these habits will not need to be unlearned. Without knowing the reasons for them, they have been proclaimed in civilized lands.
It should be the part of the physicians to take pains to advise, for most of our people are accessible to ideas; yet from these can come no improvement until the people are convinced that it is needed. Just as soon as the individual fully realizes that he himself is to blame for his suffering or his poverty in human energy, he will apply his intelligence to the bettering of his condition. If he can, in a short time, make as good a showing as public effort has made in the case of water supplies, he will accomplish much for the race.
Of equal importance to food, in the proper care of the human machine, comes the air we breathe.
Many of man's present physical troubles are due to the roof over his head confining the warmed, used-up air, which would escape freely if there were an opening provided. The first law of sanitation requires the quick removal of all wastes. Once-breathed air is as much a waste as once-used water, and should be allowed to escape. Sewers are built for draining away used water. Flues are just as important to serve as sewers for used air. Air is lighter than water, and out-breathed air being warmed is lighter than that at room temperature. It rises to the ceiling, where it will escape if it is allowed to do so before it cools sufficiently to fall.
The roof also keeps out sunlight, and some late investigations indicate that glass cuts off some of the most vitally important light rays. The "glame" of the Ralstonites--"air in motion with the sunlight on it"--may have a scientific basis.
It will at once be retorted, "But we cannot heat all out-of-doors."
A partial reply is: Do not try to make your house a tropical jungle. Travelers assure us that such an atmosphere is not conducive to work or to health.
All great nations have lived in a temperate climate, where physical and mental activity was possible for many hours a day. Science is more and more clearly giving reasons for the cooler temperature in certain physiological laws. The habits of life in regard to air and food are largely under individual, or at least under family control, and should be studied as personal hygiene.
The lessons being so clearly taught in the treatment of tuberculosis should be heeded in forming the general living habits of the people.
If loss of life can be lessened and working power increased by man's effort, why does he not make the effort? Why are men and women so apathetic over the prevalence of disease? Why do they not devote their energies to stamping it out? For no other reason than their disbelief in the teachings of science, coupled with a lingering superstition that, after all, it is fate, not will power, which rules the destinies of mankind.
Perhaps it is too much to expect that a sturdy plant of belief should have grown since the days of Edwin Chadwick and Benjamin Ward Richardson (1830-50), less than a century ago, when there were perhaps not a dozen men and women who believed that man had any appreciable control over his own health.
This early school of sanitarians endeavored to "get behind fate, to the causes of sickness." The modern socionomist is, by a study of the mental conditions of communities, endeavoring to get behind the causes of poverty and consequent suffering to the reasons for fatal indifference to dirt.
It is well recognized that in severe sicknesses of many kinds the will to get well is more powerful than drugs, that something which we call nerve force acting upon the physical machine sends a vital current through the arteries, coerces the heart to renewed pumping action, and life comes again to the blanched cheek and glazing eye. This more often happens by a mental stimulus than by any medicine. In like manner the improvement of the body's shell, the home, like that of the soul's shell, the body, comes more often from an inward impulse than from outward coercion.
Appeal to the loving but listless parent will reach the heart quickest through love for the child. Therefore stress should be laid on the child, its habits, its surroundings, its ideals. By ideals is meant the very real stimulus to action coming from within. Action must come through the material things which ideals control and through which they express themselves.
Certain notions which have crept into popular currency need to be corrected before the individual can free himself from bondage sufficiently to attempt constructive advance and improvement.
Only a small percentage of adults obtain the full efficiency from the human machine--the only means they have of living, working, enjoying. They permit themselves to stand and walk badly, they breathe with only a portion of their lungs, and so fail to furnish the blood stream with oxygen. They dress unhygienically. They eat wrongly. They exercise little. In short, they subject their bodies to abusive treatment which would ruin any machine. Because retribution does not instantly follow infraction of Nature's laws, they become callous and unbelieving. Economy and efficiency in human time and strength is one of the lessons to be taught the young people, so that they may not waste their patrimony.
The youth feels as rich in his fifty years to come as he does with a legacy of $50,000 in the bank. The years, however, can yield only small variations from the established rate of interest. The human machine can manufacture only a limited amount of energy. It remains to utilize that quantity to the best advantage. This can be done only by having a purpose in life strong enough to resist alluring temptations to fritter away both time and strength.
One of the world's busy workers found that the distractions of urban life were breaking in upon his working time and making inroads upon his physical vitality. He recognized that work for the body and work for the mind must be balanced, and he evolved an acrostic to be followed as a rule of life, the fulfillment of which has meant prolonged years of efficient work and has kept the freshness of middle life with the advancing years. Taking the six days of the week as a unit, the acrostic is as follows:
The Feast of Life
F Food One-tenth the time E Exercise One-tenth the time A Amusement One-tenth the time S Sleep Three-tenths the time T Task Four-tenths the time
The first and last are nearly fixed quantities, the other three may vary within certain limits as to amount of time given and intensity of effort. Amusement and exercise may be taken together; exercise and sleep may be somewhat interchangeable.
The task, or daily work, is a necessity for mental and physical health. It should be accepted as a part of human life and the will and energy should be directed to doing it well. It may be a pure delight, the most entertaining thing that happens; it should be interesting. It is astonishing how interesting a dull piece of work may become if one sets one's self to doing it well. That which one subconsciously knows one is doing badly is drudgery. The real pleasure in life comes not from so-called amusements--things done by other people to make one laugh; to "take one's mind off"--but from seeing the work of one's own hand and brain prosper. The work of creation, of transformation to desirable result, is the purest joy the human mind can experience. Fourteen hours a day is not too much for this kind of task. The difficulty is to gain skill of hand and eye, or training of mind, to this end. A fallacy, a canker at the heart of our social fabric today, is that the daily task is something to be rid of.
The psychology of doing is clearly illustrated in the character of Fool Billy, as drawn by the author of "Priscilla of the Good Intent."
"Is there nought ye like better than idleness?" asked the blacksmith. "Think now, Billy--just ponder over it."
"Well, now," answered the other, after a silence, "there's playing--what ye might call playing at a right good game. Could ye think of some likely pastime, David?"
"Ay, could I; blowing bellows is the grandest frolic ever I came across." ...
"I doubt 'tis work, David.... I shouldn't like to be trapped into work. 'Twould scare me when I woke o' nights and thought of it."
"See ye then, Billy"--blowing the bellows gently--"is it work to make yon sparks go, blue and green and red, as fast as ever ye like to drive 'em?"
"Te-he, 'tis just a bit o' sport--I hadn't thought of it in that light." And soon he was blowing steadily.
Later, when David the smith was going to America and wished to leave his forge with the half-witted Billy, he proposed the smith's work as play.
"Te-he," laughed Billy, "am I to play wi' all your fine tools, David?"
"Ay, just that. I've taught ye the way o' them and Dan Foster's lad from Brow Farm shall come and blow the bellows for you."
"Will that be work for Dan Foster's lad, or play?"
"Hard work, Billy--grievous hard work, while you are just playing at making horseshoes, fence railings, and what not."
"And I'm to play at making horseshoes," went on Fool Billy, "while Dan Foster's lad's sweating hard at bellows-blowing."