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BN Hot Topic: The Thing About Giving People your Leftovers



Many of us are fond of this: You cook a meal, eat with your family, have a nice time and then when you want to wash the dishes, you see some food left, so you dish it into a takeaway plate and give it to that beggar down your street. Is the food spoilt? No. Is it unhealthy or poisonous? No. Did you mean well? Yes. But is it right to give your leftovers to people who you think are “less privileged”? Well, we’ll leave you to answer that.

In a conversation about whether or not it is right to give people your leftovers, many people claimed that it is an act of self-loftiness and arrogance to want to give people your leftovers. The point of the conversation is simple: if you have it in mind to give to other people, especially when it comes to food, don’t wait until you are belly-full, dish out their own food as you dish out yours, give them theirs and then have yours. Don’t wait until you have eaten to your satisfaction and then scrap the pot for other people.

But there’s another angle to this conversation – that a person who gives out his/her food, leftover or not, is better that one who throws  it into the bin. After all, there are some people who throw food they do not enjoy or do not want to eat into the bin without considering that someone somewhere is hungry.

We’re not here to contest which is good or bad, but sometimes, it is good to pause and give thoughts to our actions and why we do what we do, right?

Is it wrong to give people your leftovers? Leftovers, in this case, is not referring to food alone, it includes clothes, shoes, home items, books and other stuff you no longer use. If you feel these things are no longer useful to you and you know other people will need them, what’s bad in giving it to them? Aren’t you helping others by doing so?

On the flip side, there’s nothing right about giving people things you know you also cannot use. Like giving out clothes that are faded or have almost become rags, that ancient-of-days, cockroach-infested wig, that fridge or fan you know is not working, or that laptop you have dismantled and recoupled a million and one times. It is even more annoying when they did not beg you for it and you give them things that are not useful to them “out of the goodness of your heart.”

Have you ever anticipated something from someone and when you eventually get it, you realise it is (almost) trash? Or you’re just sitting down jejeli in your house and that big aunty or uncle brings you a box of cloths he/she feels will “fit you” and then you can’t even get two good cloths from there because most of them are faded, torn, have permanent stains or simply cannot be worn? What then is the use of his/her “generosity”?

At what point do you realise that those leftovers should not be given out because they are not fit for other people? How do you decide what is fit or unfit for other people? What you feel you cannot use anymore because of your social/financial status could just be right for someone in a lower class. So is there a point where you know that you should throw away something instead of giving it to another person?

Does giving also have to do with intentions and motive? Like giving that beggar rice without meat because “after all, he/she’s just a beggar”? Of course, the beggar will appreciate it because he/she is probably starving, still can we consider that as an act of benevolence or kindness? How do we draw the line between giving just because and giving the right way?



Photo by Keegan Evans from Pexels

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