A stomach covering its body's eyes

With stomachs the eyes become blind

Meaning: People are more concerned with their own needs than with the needs of others

Original quote: عند البطون تعمى العيون (Arabic)

This Arabic proverb has a few variations between countries, but the meaning is the same. Although not an explicit endorsement of such behavior, it is a reminder that people are often selfish and only care about their own needs.

It can be used both for those with little and those with much. Those who are poor and hungry are typically just concerned about getting food. Others’ problems or moral ideals often take a back seat when one is starving. Their own needs take precedence.

On the other hand, this saying is also used often for the rich. When your belly is full and you are otherwise satisfied and well provided for, it is easy to forget about the needs of others. You may not even notice them. This is especially true when you are surrounded by others who are also well-off. Even if they do notice others’ problems, those who are rich still are too busy enjoying their own lives to do anything about it, and they likely do not want to risk losing their own wealth and comfort by trying to help others.

This is a rather pessimistic, if all too often true, proverb. It is a reminder that we should make conscious effort to look at others’ needs and help as we can, since we will not naturally do so.