My response was my usual retort, "it's not about him..." But Theresa wasn't buying my “greater good" argument. Or my insistence that I was doing it for myself. And so I tried explaining...
My desire to contribute to a "greater good" was inspired by Bernie Sanders actually. I worked as a volunteer on his campaign. And that work, more than anyone or anything else, convinced me on a very profound level, that we are all in this together. Consequently, I now believe it is a responsibility for each of us to do what we can to take care of and to help one another.
Lofty sentiments coming from the likes of yours truly, but nevertheless, sincere. Theresa was appalled. “You know, working on that Bernie Sanders campaign ruined you! You used to be a fun guy! Now all you wanna do is save the world! You and your greater good! There is no greater good! Doesn't the fact that Bernie Sanders is not the candidate, prove that?"
Theresa who was named after Mother Theresa by the way, was in rare form and decidedly on a roll. That said, it seemed to me, she was also stuck in a very narrow, if not closed minded way of thinking. It wasn't simply selfishness, or a lack of compassion, or empathy on her part, because clearly her intentions were good and even caring on some level, but our disconnect was also nothing short of profound.
Unfortunately for me, her refrains were all too familiar, because I had heard them before and worse, from other friends and loved ones. And in each case, they put me on the defensive which inevitably turned out to be very stressful. And so, rather than spend my precious time trying to explain myself, I would end those conversations as soon as they began.
Thankfully, the majority of my friends and loved ones do not share Theresa's opinion. The majority see the act as noble and selfless, and even heroic on some level. As such, they have been genuinely supportive, even cheering me on as it were. Nevertheless, Theresa's questions linger; and for better and worse, the closer I get to my scheduled surgery date, the more I am similarly challenged.
My nephew who also expressed concern about my decision, recently informed me that he is not registered as an organ donor. He confessed that for him, it's a matter of trust. He simply does not trust the medical industry; not hospitals, not doctors, not EMTs. Nurses he trusts, but the rest of them? Not in the least. "There just too much money in the illicit harvesting of human organs" He tells me. "You've seen the movies." *
What movies?" I ask.
"I didn't think about it in those terms"
"You're blaming me for that?" My now defensive nephew asks.
Early this morning, after yet another restless night, my subconscious provided me with what I think is a rather eloquent answer to the reoccurring question of "why anyone would become an organ donor?" This particular answer is one I am almost certain I have not heard before… So for me it was an of an epiphany of sorts when the voice in my head suggested "Think of what you're doing, as a form of philanthropy."
Philanthropy of course takes many forms, the most obvious being financial. Some are blessed with more money than they need, and the abundance of that blessing, compels them to use their wealth to help others and or contribute to a greater good.
I happen to be blessed with extraordinarily good health which includes two perfectly healthy kidneys. Kidneys are redundant organs in that most of us only need one of them during the course of our lifetime. Possessing two kidneys that are in perfect health enables, and yes compels me and others like me, to donate one of them to help others who are less fortunate.
The other in my case, happens to be an old friend suffering from a kidney disease that will surely kill him if he does not receive a transplant and soon; which is to say that my donated kidney will most probably save my friend’s life. How can that, not make sense, to anyone?