Note: This blog post comes from my religion column in the Kingsport Timesnews on 10/26/12, "Follow the Golden rule, donate blood"
Much of what happens in this life is out of our hands. No, I’m not saying we are “victims of circumstance” or that we are cosmic pawns. We have free will, self-control, and a personal responsibility to choose right from wrong. Actually, the examples that come to mind here are more like not having control over our height, eye color, the family we were born into, or how you didn’t choose your kindergarten teacher. And, consider how many friendships simply “happened” in the course of life too.
If you are a parent, there are even more examples. Try as we may, we can’t always insure or guarantee our children will follow the path we prefer. Sometimes they might not choose the career or college we think is best. Then comes the time they choose a spouse. Just trying to advise your teenager on how to pick a hairstyle should be proof enough we can’t always decide every facet of our children’s lives either.
There are other examples of how much of this life is out of our control, like the weather, economy, or politics. This fact of life, that so many aspects are out of our control, has pleasant as well as painful elements.
Let me share a great example of how life brings enjoyment our way when we don’t deserve it, but we appreciate it. Earlier this month, my wife and I, we were tremendously blessed by being taken out to dinner at The House on Main in Abingdon, and then later that night to see Cosby perform at the Barter. But wait, this story gets even better.
The gracious family who treated us to a wonderful evening of “dinner & a show” passed out our group’s tickets randomly, and, my wife and I ended up with seats mere feet from Bill Cosby. We had front-row, center seats! Cosby actually dialogued with us for a few minutes during his routine. He asked about our marriage proposal and how long we’ve been married. He had us laughing so hard as he picked on us, we had tears rolling down our cheeks.
It was a spectacular evening! We didn’t do anything to deserve such an amazing night. We certainly appreciated being warmly and graciously invited, even though we we were unprepared for how wonderful the evening progressed. I could write an entire column here on Cosby’s performance and on how much we appreciated that special night. But I share that night with you to illustrate how good experiences come our way, often times more than not, undeserved and unexpectedly.
There’s a flipside to this is in life, tragedy hits us just the same and we are equally unprepared. Catastrophe can and does strike, and to get straight to the point, in our region we have a shortage of blood. My goal here is to encourage each of us who are eligible, to consider donating blood.
Understandably, not everyone can donate blood due to health prohibitions. No pressure. But the reality is, a mere percentage of eligible people will donate blood. The stat for current donors hovers around 5% of the population. Yet, if just one more percent of our population would donate, we could eliminate our current blood shortages.
As good neighbors, we have a moral and ethical obligation to donate blood. People in scheduled surgeries or in traumatic situations require blood, daily. Does a day go by when you don’t see an ambulance or hear sirens? Not giving blood, when you can, is like turning a blind eye to the suffering and loss that can be alleviated.
More importantly than our moral responsibility, we have a Biblical obligation to donate blood when we are eligible. You know the Golden rule, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 ESV). Jesus is saying the meaning of the entire Bible up to that point (In Jesus’ day people didn’t say “The Bible” to describe the Scriptures, they said “the Law & Prophets”) is summarized in treating others the way we want to be treated. When you need blood, and many of us will need blood in our lifetime, you hope that it will be there when you need it.
Imagine your child or grandchild is trick-or-treating a few days from now. Sadly, the fact is some children end up severely injured at Halloween; sometimes people simply don’t see children crossing the street as they drive that night. Imagine now it’s your loved one, a small innocent child, in need of blood. As you pace the floor at the hospital, waiting for news on your loved one, the ER staff regrets to inform you the blood supply for their type was depleted just the day before.
This same scenario could apply to your teenage driver on a Friday night, an aging parent who is having hip-surgery, or your spouse having a minor procedure go wrong. I served as a volunteer chaplain for 5 years and I have been in ministry for 18 years now; I’ve seen pretty much every kind of trauma come through the hospital at one time or another. Loved ones need blood all of the time, due to no fault of their own, and often times the supply is dangerously low. It’s healthy to hope for those serendipitous times when we end up talking with Bill Cosby, but it’s unfair to withhold throwing out a lifeline if it’s within your power to do so.
You can help save lives, and in case you didn’t know it’s free to donate blood. And yes, there’s a small inconvenience of time and an uncomfortable stick in the arm, but that’s a small price to pay to help save lives in our community. Sure, we can send people to the moon and generate electricity using nuclear reactors, but we cannot manufacture blood. Sadly, since only 5% of the people who can, donate their blood, many lives are unnecessarily put at an extra risk waiting for blood.
Here are a few practical ideas on how you can get involved in donating blood. You can walk into the Marsh regional blood bank to donate blood, their address is 102 East Ravine Road, Kingsport. Or, if you are in management, perhaps you could initiate a blood drive to make donating as convenient as possible for your organization. Or, you could call Marsh to find a local blood drive that is already being organized, and donate there. Marsh’s number is, 423-224-5888. I imagine many of these same ideas apply to participating with the American Red Cross, their number in Kingsport is 423-378-8700.
There are a lot of factors out of our control in this life, but meeting the needs of our low blood supply is well within our collective control. Join me in donating blood on a regular basis. Please make it a habit to save lives. The life you save, might just be more important to you than your own.