“You should pray for a sound mind in a sound body” (Juvenal).
IN A HEALTH-CONSCIOUS CULTURE, IT MAY SEEM UNNECESSARY TO RECOMMEND THE IMPORTANCE OF “SOUNDNESS,” BUT THERE ARE SOME ASPECTS OF THIS SUBJECT THAT WE TEND TO OVERLOOK. Essentially, soundness means healthfulness or wholeness, and that’s a widely appreciated idea nowadays. But ironically, modern culture ends up reducing human soundness to less than it should be.
For one thing, why should we want to maintain soundness? What’s the motivation to seek “a sound mind in a sound body”? Here we need to rise above the popular monistic or pantheistic concept of reality which sees “all that is” simply as an amorphous mass of “oneness.” Yes, there is a wonderful unity to the “circle of life,” but the fact is, human beings are discrete, distinct personal beings whose actions impinge on one another. We seek soundness not to merge with impersonal existence or being, but to be of benefit to other personal beings. Soundness is not merely about us; it’s about others. Maintaining ourselves soundly is a gift we can give to those whom we love.
Authentic soundness is always based on truth and reality. In the long run, we won’t enjoy any significant soundness if we’re not willing to (1) face the facts, (2) take necessary precautions, (3) make frequent adjustments, and (4) do periodic maintenance and repair.
Not only that, but soundness requires avoiding that which is unsound and unwholesome. And that fact applies to the mental side of life even more than it does to the physical. It’s a crazy world in which we obsess about the physical environment, all the while polluting the cultural environment with toxic filth, in the name of freedom of speech.
But soundness — real soundness — is not really an extra or an option for us, at least if we want to contribute positively to the world while we’re here. Soundness, or wholeness, is necessary if we are to do the important work that the world requires. And so let’s pursue it as an honorable goal. Let’s work to maintain sound minds in sound bodies not for our own personal benefit but for the good of our neighbors.
“To meet the great tasks that are before us, we require all our intelligence, and we must be sound and wholesome in mind. We must proceed in order. The price of anger is failure” (Elwood Hendricks).