Do not ever condemn a straw/dust that comes under your foot. If it ever rises up and goes into your eye, it will cause a lot of pain!

That’s an English translation.Kabir Das says that you should not condemn even a little object/ the poor whom you consider weaker than you, as you should not trample a straw because when that weak/ poor person counter-attacks, it will be very painful just like straw/dust in the eye can cause a lot of discomfort.

  • There are quite a few by Aesop on this theme. Not "English" but European, perhaps. "The Lion and the Mouse".
    – James K
    Aug 5, 2021 at 14:18
  • I don’t think so. That describes we (big) should spare the little one because someday it can be useful to us. But mine conveys the meaning that we shouldn’t consider anyone little because when he will attack you, he (the little one) will cause a lot of pain as a straw or dust does in our eyes.
    – Jay Ho
    Aug 5, 2021 at 14:35
  • I was always told (UK) that you should not mock the afflicted although without any clarification as to what would happen to me if I did. This would seem rather old-fashioned these days.
    – mdewey
    Aug 5, 2021 at 14:50

4 Answers 4


I cannot think of an exact equivalent for this proverb in English, but I can think of partial substitutes.

These proverbs carry the idea that "if you do bad things to other people, bad things will happen to you":

You reap what you sow.

What goes around, comes around.

However, they do not specify that the victim of your actions is weak, and they do not specify the source of your "punishment".

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This is the most common English phrasing of the Golden Rule, which is arguably the most famous proverb on Earth. It expresses the idea that we should treat everyone kindly, whether they are weak or strong. However, it does not say what the consequences will be if we do not obey the Rule.

If we want to dig deeper into the Bible (always good for a literary reference in the English-speaking world), there are a number of lines that warn against oppressing the weak, the poor and the powerless. However, few if any of these lines imply that the poor will trouble their oppressors directly; rather, the idea is that God will punish oppressors on behalf of the poor.

"Those who shut their ears to the cry of the poor
    will themselves call out and not be answered."
—Proverbs 21:13 (NABRE translation)

"Do not rob the poor because they are poor,
    nor crush the needy at the gate;
For the LORD will defend their cause,
    and will plunder those who plunder them."
—Proverbs 22:22-23 (NABRE translation)

"He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches,
And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty."
—Proverbs 22:16 (NKJV translation)


There are many, with different nuances

Comfort the afflicted


Don’t kick a man when he is down

both conform to the general sentiment, but have entirely different tones, and one is affirmative and the other negative.

One good turn deserves another

is an entirely different take.


How about:

Don't tromp (trample) on the little guy.

meaning don't mistreat someone you believe to be inferior to you, because you might be wrong and they'll come back and get you.


Disparage. 👍🏻

Second: “Diminish”

Third: “Dismiss”, “Disdain.” “Brush aside.” “Discount.”

Those are my choices. Disdain and discount have different meanings slightly. Disdain may sound odd but is used that way.

Minimize, underestimate, downplay, make light of, scorn

Depends if you want to emphasize the miscalculation involved or the arrogance toward (and maybe even dislike and disdain for). Those are the two dimensions I see.

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