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Where did that phrase come from - Ounce of prevention worth pound of cure
Stan St. Clair

By Stan St. Clair


On this holiest of Christian holidays when churches have traditionally had the largest number of worshipers assembled, they are forced to be closed.

There has never been a time in our lifetimes when “an ounce of prevention” has been more needed. With hundreds of thousands infected and deaths still increasing by the day from a strain of coronavirus that only came into view a few short months ago, we have all been asked to follow strict guidelines: stay home, wash our hands often, disinfect our homes, and remain a safe distance from others. 

The COVID-19 Task Force has even advised us to wear a cloth facial covering when it is absolutely imperative to go out in public, to help slow the spread of the virus. Yet some have still chosen to ignore much of this and go merrily about life as usual.

Let’s examine how long this tidbit of common sense has been with us. It is likely no surprise to most that this proverb was passed down to us by none other than Ben Franklin. 

It is actually an axiom, because in order to head off disaster we must prepare for the worst, but to have the most positive result we should expect the best. Though this is most often utilized in issues of health, and rightfully so, Ben originally wrote it in relation to fire safety, and was using an assumed name at the time. The statement went like this:

“In the first Place, as an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure, I would advise ‘em to take care how they suffer leaving Coals in a full Shovel, to be carried out of one Room into another, or up or down Stairs, unless in a Warmingpan shut; for Scraps of Fire may fall into Chinks and make no Appearance until Midnight; when your Stairs being in Flames, you may be forced, (as I once was) to leap out of your Windows, and hazard your Necks to avoid being oven-roasted.”

Whatever the circumstances, it all comes down to the simple principle of which is also expressed in the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.” 

If we fail to heed this we must be ready to “pay the piper.”

If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text 931-212-3303 or email stan@stclair.net.