In the 1860s, no one understood the existence of germs and their dangers. Sanitation and hygiene went unconsidered. Surgeons, doctors, food handlers worked with filthy hands. Life was nasty, brutish, and usually short.
When Pasteur, Lister, and others introduced sterilisation and antiseptics, physical health and human life expectancy improved greatly. But it took thirty-five years before doctors washing their hands and sterilising instruments became standard practice. And the same for the public to adopt basic sanitary practices. Pioneers faced persistent stiff resistance to new thinking and new methods. After all, they were asking people to tackle invisible enemies that the public and specialists did not see, recognise, nor acknowledge.
History focuses on the prominent leaders of the change. The real shift in saving lives was made by multitudes of ordinary people doing basic things. Such as washing themselves and their clothes, getting rid of dirt and vermin (germ carriers), and other simple hygiene tasks.
Today, the world is awash with a lack of emotional and mental health, and the consequent human damage this creates. The ‘germs’ we face are not just the plague of stress, distress, depression, and other mental illnesses; but also outcomes of alcohol and drug abuse and domestic and other violence. More broadly, the societal evils of bigotry, intolerance, abusive behaviour, bullying, autocracy, and conflict. Autocracy is a damage pattern.
Like the shift in sanitation and hygiene practices, we need to see the widespread adoption by ordinary people of better emotional and mental hygiene. Cleaning up emotions and thinking to achieve Wellness.
The people of 160 years ago lacked knowledge, tools, and techniques to achieve clean physical living. Today, we require similar knowledge about the nature and operation of our emotional and mental processes. Back then, people did not need education in the theory of bacteria, infection, and antisepsis. They needed plain, simple, and practical guidance on what to do and not do, and how to go about it. Once applicable knowledge spread; illness and death rates dropped dramatically.