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In this matter, then, as in all the other matters treated in this book,
our main conclusion is that it is a fundamental point of view,
a philosophy or religion which is needed, and not any change in habit
or social routine. The things we need most for immediate practical
purposes are all abstractions. We need a right view of the human lot,
a right view of the human society; and if we were living eagerly
and angrily in the enthusiasm of those things, we should,
ipso facto, be living simply in the genuine and spiritual sense.
Desire and danger make every one simple. And to those who talk to us
with interfering eloquence about Jaeger and the pores of the skin,
and about Plasmon and the coats of the stomach, at them shall only
be hurled the words that are hurled at fops and gluttons, "Take no
thought what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal ye
shall be clothed. For after all these things do the Gentiles seek.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you." Those amazing
words are not only extraordinarily good, practical politics;
they are also superlatively good hygiene. The one supreme way
of making all those processes go right, the processes of health,
and strength, and grace, and beauty, the one and only way of making
certain of their accuracy, is to think about something else.
If a man is bent on climbing into the seventh heaven, he may be
quite easy about the pores of his skin. If he harnesses his waggon
to a star, the process will have a most satisfactory effect upon
the coats of his stomach. For the thing called "taking thought,"
the thing for which the best modern word is "rationalizing,"
is in its nature, inapplicable to all plain and urgent things.
Men take thought and ponder rationalistically, touching remote things--
things that only theoretically matter, such as the transit of Venus.
But only at their peril can men rationalize about so practical
a matter as health.