Love is in the air; or is it? Whilst some would ignore the essence of Valentine’s day- to receive and show love- millions around the globe go out of their way to make sure that it was a day they and their loved ones would look back on with fondness. Cakes are baked, wine is bought, cards are signed and millions of valentine messages travel fast through GSM phones at the speed of light. Love ought to be altruistic-unselfish; you give love not because you expect something back, but because it feels good to give it.
Most organized religions encourage their followers to love others as they would love themselves but most people take that to mean, “ love myself, close family and a handful of friends.” Good Samaritans are hard to come by in today’s dog eat dog world and sadly that means few people are willing to do something as selfless as randomly donating blood.
Few aspire to noble causes without expecting material return; when asked to donate blood, some callously ask, “what’s in it for me?” the very thought of giving blood without expecting anything in return is abhorrent to them and worse, they go out of their way to encourage others not to either.
Donating blood is one of the most important things any human can do; it’s one of the few safe ways anyone can show love and care for another human being who may be known to them or totally anonymous. Walking into a blood bank to donate blood is one of the most heroic steps a person can take. A single pint of one’s blood is capable of saving three lives. Blood is life and life is precious, thus that selfless act of donating your blood not only makes you feel good, but also elevates you before God, the giver of life.
The National Blood Transfusion Service has the noble burden to provide safe blood for the millions of Nigerians who need them. In a country such as ours with a population of about a 170 million, it’s a sad irony that people die just because the hospitals have a shortage of blood. Why is there a shortage? You and I have refused to heed the NBTS’ call to donate blood. Every able bodied person who for any reason has refused to donate blood is only throwing stones in their own glass house, reversely. If millions shake the selfish bonds holding them back from donating blood, few would succumb to their injuries in emergencies arising from accidents or bomb blasts.
NBTS wants us to show love to our fellow human beings; they want us to show that in this fast paced materialistic world, we have not lost our humanity, we are still our brothers’ keeper; we are still noble men and women who aspire to the good life and better accommodations in the great beyond.
Valentine is not just about showing your husband or wife; boyfriend or girlfriend how much you love and care for them; it’s also about showing love to people who may not be able to pay you back; people who will have a second chance at life just because you decided to walk into a blood donation centre and give that precious gift.
The blood available to our massive population in banks are a paltry half million units; the amount needed yearly is about a million and a half; doesn’t this make one ashamed?
Doesn’t this show that there is absolutely little love in the air? Doesn’t this give you some sadness, shame and hopelessness?
Yet, we are quick to profess love, quick to shower expensive gifts on people we expect something in return from.
Is it not obvious that valentine and blood donation go together? Blood is red, the same symbolic hue for valentine. Yesterday, Abuja was awash with red, an outward expression of an inward lie I dare say. True love is unselfish, deep and fulfilling.
For those who have been donating blood, kudos; for those who have never and probably would never, I say eya, for you know not what you are missing out on. Philanthropists, heroes, martyrs- they are not born, they are made. Do you want to make a difference in your life and that of others, give and keep giving as much as you can.
The biggest gift you can give this valentine is the gift of blood-literarily. Don’t just wear red, donate red.