There is an army, whose numbers are legion, who worry about their health and that of the members of their family. What with the doctors scaring the life out of them with the germ theory, seeking to obtain legislation to vaccinate them, examine their children nude in school, take out their tonsils, appendices, and other internal organs, inject serums into them for this, that, and the other, and requiring them to observe a score and one maxims which they do not understand, there is no wonder they are worried. Then when one considers the army of physicians who feel it to be their duty to write of sickness for the benefit of the people, who give detailed symptoms of every disease known; and of the larger army of quacks who deliberately live and fatten themselves upon the worries they can create in the minds of the ignorant, the vicious and the diseased; of the patent-medicine manufacturers, who spend millions of dollars annually in scaring people into the use of their nostrums—none of which are worth the cost of the paper with which they are wrapped up—is there any wonder that people, who are not trained to think, should be worried. Worries meet them on every hand, at every corner. Do they feel an ache or a pain? According to such a doctor, or such a patent-medicine advertisement, that is a dangerous symptom which must be checked at once or the most fearful results will ensue.
Then there are the naturopaths, physicultopaths, gymnastopaths, hygienists, raw food advocates, and a thousand and one other notionists, who give advice as to what, when, and how you shall eat. Horace Fletcher insists that food be chewed until it is liquid; another authority says, "Bosh!" to this and asks you to look at the dog who bolts his meat and is still healthy, vigorous and strong. The raw food advocate assures you that the only good food is uncooked, and that you take out this, that, and the other by cooking, all of which are essential to the welfare of the body. Between these natural authorities and the medical authorities, there is a great deal of warfare going on all the time, and the layman knows not wherein true safety lies. Is it any wonder that he is worried.
Many members of the medical profession and the drug-stores have themselves to thank for this state of perpetual worriment and mental unrest. They inculcated, nurtured, and fostered a colossal ignorance in regard to the needs of the body, and a tremendous dread and blind fear of everything that seems the slightest degree removed from the everyday normal. They have persistently taught those who rely upon them that the only safe and wise procedure is to rush immediately to a physician upon the first sign of anything even slightly out of the ordinary.
Then, with wise looks, mysterious words, strange symbols, and loathsome decoctions, they have sent their victims home to imagine that some marvelous wonder work will follow the swallowing of their abominable mixtures instead of frankly and honestly telling their consultants that their fever was caused by overeating, by too late hours, by dancing in an ill-ventilated room, by too great application to business, by too many cocktails, or too much tobacco smoking.
The results are many and disastrous. People become confirmed "worriers" about their health. On the slightest suspicion of an ache or a pain, they rush to the doctor or the drug-store for a prescription, a dose, a powder, a potion, or a pill.
The telephone is kept in constant operation about trivialities, and every month a bill of greater or lesser extent has to be paid.
While I do not wish to deprecate the calling in of a physician in any serious case, by those who deem it advisable, I do condemn as absurd, unnecessary, and foolish in the highest degree, this perpetual worry about trivial symptoms of health. Every truthful physician will frankly tell you—if you ask him—that worrying is often the worst part of the trouble; in other words, that if you never did a thing in these cases that distress you, but would quit your worrying, the discomfort would generally disappear of its own accord.
One result of this kind of worry is that it genders a nervousness that unnecessarily calls up to the mind pictures of a large variety of possible dangers.
Who has not met with this nervous species of worrier? The train enters a tunnel: "What an awful place for a wreck!" Or it is climbing a mountain grade with a deep precipice on one side: "My, if we were to swing off this grade!" I have heard scores of people, who, on riding up the Great Cable Incline of the Mount Lowe Railway, have exclaimed: "What would become of us if this cable were to break?" and they were apparently people of reason and intelligence. The fact is, the cable is so strong and heavy that with two cars crowded to the utmost, their united weight is insufficient to stretch the cable tight, let alone putting any strain upon it sufficient to break it. And most nervous worries are as baseless as this.
"Yet," says some apologist for worries, "accidents do happen. Look at the Eastland in Chicago, and the loss of the Titanic. Railways have wrecks, collisions, and accidents. Horses do run away. Dogs do bite. People do become sick!" Granted without debate or discussion. But if everybody on board the wrecked vessels had worried for six months beforehand, would their worries have prevented the wrecks? Mind you, I say worry, not proper precaution. The shipping authorities, all railway officials and employees, etc., should be as alert as possible to guard against all accidents. But this can be done without one moment's worry on the part of a solitary human being, and care is as different from worry as gold is from dross, coal from ashes. By all means, take due precautions; study to avoid the possibility of accidents, but do not give worry a place in your mind for a moment.
A twin brother to this health-worrier is the nervous type, who is sure that every dog loose on the streets is going to bite; every horse driven behind is surely going to run away; every chauffeur is either reckless, drunk, or sure to run into a telegraph pole, have a collision with another car, overturn his car at the corner, or run down the crossing pedestrian; every loitering person is a tramp, who is a burglar in disguise; every stranger is an enemy, or at least must be regarded with suspicion. Such worriers always seem to prefer to look on the dark side of the unknown rather than on the bright side. "Think no evil!" is good philosophy to apply to everything, as well as genuine religion—when put into practice. The world is in the control of the Powers of Good, and these seek our good, not our disaster. Have faith in the goodness of the powers that be, and work and live to help make your faith true. The man who sees evil where none exists, will do more to call it into existence than he imagines, and equally true, or even more so, is the converse, that he who sees good where none seems to exist, will call it forth, bring it to the surface.
The teacher, who imagines that all children are mean and are merely waiting for a chance to exercise that meanness, will soon justify his suspicions and the children will become what he imagines them to be. Yet such a teacher often little realizes that it has been his own wicked fears and worries that helped—to put it mildly—the evil assert itself.
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