This following explanation is taken from a website called: Writingexplained.org
Definition: Don’t criticise or hurt those you depend on; don’t turn against a benefactor.
This idiom means that if someone is providing you with necessities, you shouldn’t disrespect them, be ungrateful, or criticise their behaviour lest he or she turns around and take away what you need.
It is in your ultimate best interest to take care of those who take care of you. The metaphorical hand that feeds you may be providing you with actual food, with a monetary value, with education, with health care, or anything else.
This sounds good and natural, don’t you think? I mean, who should be acting in such an ungrateful and disrespecting way? Someone who provides for you, gives you what you need and maybe more deserves the greatest gratitude. I don’t question that a bit, as long as there is no hidden agenda behind it. A family provider earns respect for all the hard work and care that benefits the family. A family works like a team where everyone has its own and important role. Everyone has the same value, as long as everyone accepts his or her role and are prepared to accept their responsibility for the wellbeing of the family. In the best of worlds, this would be great, but some people are greedy and they want more than just a plain Thank you.
So now a little test:
Try to read the top part of my article again, read it out loud and change the tone of your voice to an insinuating kind or almost threatening. Ask someone to listen to you and when you have finished, ask that person how you made him or her feel.
How do you feel, yourself, as you read it? How did you react to the other part’s emotions? I must admit that I got a bad feeling in my stomach when I read it that way.
Why I chose this idiom as the topic for my article was because I read an article on the Internet about the Chinese government gifting the Gambian people with 54,000 bags of rice.
There was a photo taken at the ceremony where we could see a representative from China together with President Barrow and some others. I read the comments under the article, some were positive but most of them were actually negative.
Oh dear, you might tell yourself, it’s not nice to say something negative about such a valuable gift. Well, if the gift would have come without a hidden agenda I would have agreed, but I don’t trust the givers. If the gift had come from the heart it wouldn’t have been necessary with a ceremony and the presence of the president. Why this public exposure of something that won’t even benefit more than a handful of people? There are more than 54,000 people in The Gambia, and even if you would give one bag per family it wouldn’t be enough to feed them all.
Do you really trust that these bags of rice will be distributed to those who need them the most? I don’t believe that for a moment, not as long as we have such a high level of corruption in The Gambia. It would be interesting to see where these bags will end up. Do you find me too sarcastic right now? I’m sorry for that, but I would prefer to call myself realistic. We have all seen that official gifts don’t benefit more than a few people, and it is always those who stand closest to the pot that gets fed first.
In the article I referred to, it also said that China will send some experts to The Gambia in April to train local agricultural technicians and provide certain agricultural machinery to The Gambia. Well, thank you for that, Chinese government, you will teach the Gambian people how to grow their own rice now as you have taken almost all the fish in the sea so people can’t afford to buy the little they can get. It will just take some years before Gambian farmers are able to harvest enough rice to feed the whole Gambia, but people just have to adapt to smaller portions, don’t they?
China is protecting its fish production with strict rules about when to fish and when to avoid, all to make sure that the smaller fish have the opportunity to thrive. These rules are nothing, they needed to follow outside the Chinese border, and that is why Gambian and Senegalese fishermen return with empty nets.
Do you still feel grateful? Were you aware of the Chinese fishing rules considering their own waters? I didn’t think so, because that is not popular information.
If that information reached you, you might protest and have something bad to say about their actions. That shouldn’t happen, or should it? I mean, we shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds us.
”… if someone provides you with necessities, you shouldn’t disrespect them, be ungrateful, or criticise their behaviour lest he or she turns around and take away what you need.”
So am I to be considered as disrespectful, ungrateful or unnecessarily critical? Some of you might answer with a yes, but I am cautious. Life has thought me to not only listen to what someone says or shows, but to look behind the obvious. I am sure that there are a lot of good-hearted and generous Chinese people, but from what I have heard about how the Chinese government treats their own people, I don’t believe for one minute that this gift of 54,000 bags of rice is an action from a soft heart. Most of the Gambian people are Muslims, and it is well known internationally that the Chinese government doesn’t like Muslims. They have detained their own Muslims in labour camps where they are forced to abandon their religion. They get brainwashed there, are forbidden to pray and they must show that they have distanced themselves from Islam completely before there is the slightest possibility for them to get out from that camp.
I have asked that before, and I ask again – for what other reason have they decided to interact with a Muslim country if there is no agenda behind it? Wake up, people, can’t you see the signs? Don’t stand there with bent necks and mumble about your gratitude to your new masters! Be aware of the fact that nothing comes for free.
You might protest and say that it is easy for me to say. You say that I live in a wealthy country and so on. It’s true that I live in a wealthy country, but we have built up this wealth with our own blood, sweat and tears. Determination is the source behind success because nothing comes for free. I truly understand that it is tempting to receive every gift and help you can get because you have so little. All of us know why you have so little and it is one of your own we can blame.
You have nurtured a parasite that has sucked out every inch of energy and creativity, but that has to change. You must find the change within and not expect others to take care of your needs because otherwise you will always be dependent on others.
It is possible to build up a country from the bottom, but that takes determination. Sweden hasn’t always been rich, it was poor like hell 100 years ago. Finland was a disaster after the end of World War II and the continuing war with Russia that lasted for four years. Finland is now thriving, but it took hard work and determination to build up the country.
In The Gambia you can grow different kind of crops all year round, up here in the north we have four months. Four months! Depending on where you live in Sweden it can be a little longer, but it can also be as short as from two to five months.
In The Gambia, it’s warm all year round, you don’t need to heat up your houses.
In Sweden it’s cold from October to April. Depending on where you live it can be warm for a little longer, but it can also be cold much longer.
In The Gambia you have sunshine more or less all year round, that can be used to create energy so you can cool down your houses and have electricity for everything you need.
In Sweden we have some sunny days too, but it’s more unpredictable. The summers can be great with a lot of sun, but they can also be three months of rain.
You have all these resources, so you really should have every opportunity to build up a great country. My dear reader, I know I sound harsh in this article but I feel so frustrated. I love The Gambia and I care about you, that is why I write and that is why I sound harsh. It’s like speaking to someone you love, when you see the capacity that person has is not used properly. You must learn to work together, solidarity should be your key word. A society built on solidarity makes sure that whatever we do will benefit everyone. The Gambia shouldn’t be divided in different tribes, it should be one whole tribe where everyone has the same value regardless of your heritage.
Look at Rwanda; the genocide there killed more than 800,000 people during some months in 1994. That is almost half of The Gambia’s population! If we look at the country now we can see that they decided to leave the animosity between the Hutus and the Tutsis behind them and build up welfare together. With hard work and determination Rwanda is a country where they have good hospitals, schools, infrastructure and everything their citizens need. It is possible to turn around and build up something good even if you are at the bottom. With all the possibilities we have nowadays to find information – thanks to the Internet – we can search for knowledge and inspiration from all over the world. The Internet is a wonderful invention when it’s used right. Don’t waste your time on gossiping or slandering others, search for knowledge and develop your mind. You will find that it will become a habit for you, that every time you sit by the computer you will learn something new.
Whatever area you wish to learn more about, you will be able to find information about that. There are online classes that are for free or that cost very little. Develop your mind and never stop learning, life is a process – not a state.
Start collaborations with those you trust, those who don’t promise you too much but who offer to be of assistance to you. You know what they say: When it seems to be too good to be true; it often is. Please be a little cautious with who you allow to come near, get to know the person, organisation or government first before you let them in. It’s hard to make them lose their grip when you find out that the one who bites, is not you – it’s them.