Red-Blooded American Guy

Every altruistic action has an equal and opposite selfish motive. Good and evil are exactly, inseparably balanced. This is an examination of the dark side of the seemingly blameless action of donating blood.

Charity is motivated as much by selfless kindness, willing sacrifice and altruism as by evil and corrupt self-serving ends; cowardice and superstition, vain-glory and the stink of self-righteousness, conveying to the sanctimonious giver a self-congratulatory moral superiority.

Humans, perhaps uniquely among the animals, know that they are fated to die. We fear death and do all we can to stave off the fateful day. The basis of all religion is the knowledge of inevitable doom. The world is filled with nameless terrors, bogies, goblins, pits and snares. The only positive presence is evil, good is merely the absence of bad. The gods are capricious and malevolent. Sacrifice and worship are bribes to placate angry, vengeful entities. Prayers are the begging of scraps from the rich man's table. All religion is juju. Life is hard and it always ends the same: in pain and death. The evil of the world is not diminished by sacrifice or prayer, it is only shifted to the shoulders of the less prudent. By my sacrifice, I increase the misery of someone else, but I at least am spared for the moment. There are no clean hands, there are no pure and selfless actions.

An atavistic blood offering is perhaps the most primitive, basic, powerful form of sacrifice. Moloch, to whom innocent children were sacrificed, was not a god of mercy. Blood sacrifice characterizes Old Testament worship. Cain sacrificed fruits and vegetables to God, who rejected his offering in favor of the blood and flesh tendered by his brother, Abel. Cain slew his brother in anger, shedding the first blood in a blood-vengeful world.

New Testament Christians are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. The pre-Colombian Aztecs believed that blood, both human and animal, sacrificed to their gods preserved the world from destruction. Blood is life, and the sacrifice of blood is the ultimate form of worship. By giving blood I am also sacrificing blood.

By giving blood, I am atoning for hidden sin. I know, and God knows, what evil lies in my heart; what unkindnesses, what violence I have committed. My wrongdoing is mitigated through my private sin-offering. I give blood out of guilt; my motives are selfish. My need is for expiation. My first blood donation was to get ten days off a jail sentence.

Giving blood is an expression of moral superiority. "God," prayed the smug New Testament Pharisee, "I thank Thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." (Luke 18:11) Many restrictions surround who may and may not give blood. When I give blood, I am actually boasting that I am not one of the cast that cannot: I am not a homosexual; I am not and have never been an intravenous drug abuser; I do not seek the soiled favors of whores. By giving blood, and by so doing repeatedly, I demonstrate again and again that I am as good as they are wicked.

Giving blood is a demonstration of racial and cultural superiority: I am a white male, a member of a superior culture--Africans, South-East Asians, Latin Americans are proscribed from donating blood. Their nations are disease ridden, plague infested, malarial stews of heathenish practices. The safe nations are the white nations: Canada, the United States, Europe (but not the British Isles--nasty agricultural practices put them out of the running), New Zealand and Australia. Oh, and Japan, source of the model minority. The backward, dirty and wicked are not able to donate blood. The typical repeat donor is a white, Christian, middle-aged, mid-western woman.

Giving blood is the gift of a tightwad: it is the Deadly Sin of Avarice. It costs me nothing but a little time, a brief pinprick and sometimes a bruise. The social and moral credit I receive in return is far greater than if I gave thousands to a worthy cause. It seems unremunerated, but what could possibly be given in return for something as valuable as my life's blood? It is beyond price, so I ask nothing.

I am guilty of the Deadly Sin of Sloth: All I do is lay still for six minutes and, when donating platelets, motionlessly watch a two-hour movie. Attentive nurses do all the work and I get all the credit.

Donating blood allows me self-indulgence that would otherwise seem inappropriate. I may, after donating, indulge freely in the Deadly Sin of Gluttony.

I am culpable of the Deadly Sin of Pride: Under the guise of recruitment, being a blood donor allows me to parade my virtue and superiority.

I parade my masculine arrogance: Only a big man can donate blood. Little people (in whatever sense) do not or cannot.

Donating blood is an expression of hidden masochism. It hurts: good. It's scary: good. It takes valuable time: good. It is noble self-sacrifice: good.

Donating blood taps into a fascination with blood and death. The recipient is hurt or ill, I share in his pain and fear with voyeuristic, privileged schadenfreude.

Giving blood is a plea for mercy from the vengeful gods: Having given the gift of life, I am more deserving of life. Death will spare me; disease pass me over. I give for selfish and corrupt reasons, my gift is tainted. People are grossly superstitious, and are easily persuaded that something is bad luck (not so susceptible to good luck charms--bad is real and understandable. Good is illusory and suspect) Advice to people who have witnessed disasters or serious crimes: do something positive that will give you a sense of control.

David Lance Goines (121 units of blood, platelets or plasma on 107 occasions)

February 10, 2004

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