Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” He was talking about house fires, but it can apply to countless situations. I’ve heard that old saying since childhood but never thought much about testing it with real events until recently.
The ratio doesn’t always work, but the premise is sound. Even if it takes a pound of prevention for a pound of cure, it’s still usually the best course to pursue. Prevention is almost always preferable to repair, plus some things once broken can’t be fixed.
I’ve been pondering how Uncle Ben’s wisdom might apply to troubling headlines of today. A national shortage of infant formula is a good example. It’s hard to believe that neither the Food and Drug Administration nor a company the size of Abbott Labs could work out a better plan on how to handle what has evolved into a critical health issue.
My understanding is the formula was potentially being tainted in the manufacturing process. That’s a serious condition which certainly warranted prompt attention. What I’ve gleaned from news coverage, however, indicates one problem was solved by creating a much bigger one.
A slight safety risk was eliminated by taking formula off the shelves. Now babies are crying, mothers are frantically searching, and hospitals are struggling. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m beginning to have suspicions there’s a shortage of deep thinkers in key government positions and corporate leadership. Impressive job titles aren’t proof of ability or common sense.
Uvalde, Texas, is an especially heartbreaking example of the importance of prevention. I don’t profess to have a solution to mass shootings but based on what’s been reported two things stand out. First, the shooter walked through a door that should have been locked. Secondly, the school resource officer was not present.
There may be reasonable explanations for the unlocked door and the absence of a security person. Regardless of the cause, however, with minimal prevention perhaps 19 children and two adults would be enjoying summer vacations instead of being mourned by loved ones.
Ukraine is another tragic case of failing to take adequate preventive measures. I have no expertise in such matters, but when Russia began amassing military troops on the Ukrainian border, it struck me that Ukraine needed to be able to line up a comparable show of force. They didn’t have that kind of weaponry, however, and we were afraid to provide it. So, we threatened Mr. Putin with sanctions. When that didn’t work, we added heavier sanctions and light artillery.
Four months later the Russians have decimated a peaceful democracy. They’ve slaughtered thousands, displaced millions, and demolished towns along with the people. We’re sending better weapons now, based on Ukraine’s promise they won’t fire across the border. If Russia is firing into Ukraine, it seems to me Ukraine is entitled to return the favor.
Finally, we get to monkeypox, which hopefully won’t become the next pandemic. The World Health Organization says it’s believed to have been initially spread at two raves for men in Europe. I had no idea what a rave was, so I did an online search. It’s an organized party with five common elements: alcohol, drugs, sex, dancing, and music. Raves usually start late at night and run until daybreak. That begs a question that perhaps was not fully considered, “What could go wrong?”
I wonder if it occurred to any of those fellows that a rave might not be a good idea. I don’t know what kind of music was featured, but they should have played Chuck Berry’s, “Too Much Monkey Business.” The details of the monkey’s involvement in transmitting the pox to humans have not been disclosed and I’m not sure I want to know. Maybe an organ grinder took his pet to the dance.
The opinion of a small time columnist won’t cure an infant formula shortage, soothe Uvalde’s heartbreak, or restore peace in Ukraine. There’s no way to turn back the clock on tragedy.
We can, however, learn from our mistakes and embrace the wisdom of a founding father – “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Common sense dictates prevention is preferable to repair, but that’s unlikely to become the norm. We’re too busy monkeying around.