Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrates the life of a great man and his ability to bring together an entire nation. Dr. King believed that we would eventually live in a society where the content of our character defined us: not the color of our skin. He believed that every person would and should have the same inalienable rights ensured by the constitution, and he put his life on the line to protect this ideal. From Selma, to Montgomery, to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. King endured mass hatred, bigotry, ignorance, and a lack of personal safety – all in the name of equality. And, he did so selflessly.
On Monday, January 18, we celebrate this spirit of sacrifice and selflessness. We celebrate the life of a man who preached non-violence, fought for freedom and justice for all, and focused on the power of unconditional love.
And what of unconditional love? Where is its place in lifesaving and enhancing organ, eye and tissue donation?
One needn’t look any further for the answer than the donors and donor families in this county. In 2015 alone, more than 12,000 individuals gave the Gift of Life (deceased and living donation combined). More than 30,000 enhanced lives through tissue donation after passing, a no less heroic legacy, and in the decades prior, still more heroes made it possible for others to live.
Simply put: Donors epitomize unconditional love.
The same can be said of donor families who, in the depths of despair, on the most difficult day of their lives, exhibit unconditional love by consenting to organ donation or honoring the wishes of their loved ones. Not knowing where their loved one’s gifts will go, and knowing fully they’ll likely save complete strangers, unconditional love is exemplified.
Dr. King dreamed of a world where neighbors would help neighbors simply because it was the right thing to do – that members of our communities would help others, regardless of their race or religion, for no other reason than a responsibility to the betterment of mankind.
He once stated, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
Each day, donors and donor families in our nation and around the world answer that very question.
And they do so lovingly … selflessly … unconditionally.