Anyway, for my first post, I've decided to put up my most recent This I Believe essay. Enjoy!
Thicker Than Water
I have a personal mandate from the universe which is literally in my blood.
I learned this as a senior in high school, when I donated blood for the first time. I have O-Negative blood, which means I can donate to any other blood type. I'm what's called a universal donor.
We'd known about the blood drive for a few weeks. I was seventeen, so I could officially donate by then. The only thing holding me back was my own fear. It creeped me out that the nurse might dig around in my arm for a vein, or that I might pass out if I hadn't eaten enough. My dad, who is a giant at 6'4" and the last person you'd expect to freak out, faints when he gives blood.
I went anyway, of course, and missed my Spanish class fifth period less-than-grudgingly. Some friends and I walked over to the gym at our school and waited in line. I was terrified, to say the least. Waiting in the queue with my friends, I kept saying out loud how unafraid I was, as if it would help me feel better. Eventually I went into a booth where a lady pricked my finger and found out that I'm not anemic. Shortly after that, I was sitting in a chair with blood flowing out of my arm.
Despite my thin, deep veins, the nurse had found my vein without a hitch. The needle didn't hurt. I wasn't passing out. I was just talking to the nurse about vacations I'd taken, and suddenly I was drinking water and eating cookies before going back to class.
Donating blood, however, wasn't successful because I evaded pain or because I managed to stay conscious the entire time. Donating blood is simply a form of service, something I can to do keep someone else from dying, or worse, from the immeasurable grief of losing a loved one.
Just as I was afraid to open a vein for a dying patient, I believe that it's hard to find room in my schedule, my home, or my heart for serving other people. It can appear inconvenient, time-consuming, and downright frightening. Yet, in the long run, I believe that when I give up part of me for the sake of someone else, I am doing my part as a member of the human race.
I believe we're all universal donors of a different kind: we have the power to donate our time, our love, and ourselves in the service of another person. In our blood, which we share, we have an infinitely more unifying factor than inherited antigens or whatever it is that makes a blood type singular. We share our humanity. This brotherhood and sisterhood is our mandate from the universe to do everything we can for one another. I believe in giving my blood and my life to someone else, because every person's blood and life are equally important as my own. Every human bleeds red. There is no one on this earth who doesn't need to be loved. I believe our blood unites us. I believe in being a universal donor.