Moral Conflict

Today I had to make a choice between my benefit and the benefit of someone else.

This past weekend, I bought lots of goodies for Tara’s bridal shower. I didn’t use them all, so I decided to return what was unused and would go to waste in our house.

“Can I return these,” I asked the sales clerk, looking down at a full, sad bag of unwanted items.

“Yes, yes you can,” she said slowly and hesitantly.

“Oook. Then I would like to return them.”

“I have to tell you, we throw these items away.”

“You throw them away?”

“Yes.”

“All of them?” I said pointing at the unopened 1lb bag of sugar and the same amount in flour.

“Yes.”

“OoooK.”

“We can donate them,” she said.

“Ooook.”

“We can just return them,” she said picking up the items and scanning them to cancel them out.

I waited for a second. I thought of those items in the trash can, picturing them like cartoons from School House Rock.  I thought of the meals they could provide a family. It was a known fact that the local food pantry has been more active since the flood. They called out to me. The sales clerk’s eyes called out to me. But, I really could use the extra money. I have a lot of things to pay for and pay off before I return to Africa and each penny counts.

“Stop. I can’t do this. I will donate the items.”

We settled on returning the perishable items knowing the food bank would mostly likely not take them. I still felt horrible knowing some food would go to waste. That line parents would give you when you wouldn’t finish all of your vegetables – “Kids in Africa would kill for this food” – is true. They would. I once set out a plate of food outside my door and it was gone before it hit the ground. I also saw a girl eat a rotten cucumber because it was food. I just couldn’t let those items go to waste.

I had a choice tonight, me or someone I didn’t know. I choose to benefit someone else. In the end, I still felt terrible about my money situation, but I realized that I am OK. I am OK financially and I more than OK with being the girl who gives something up for someone else.

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