Please meet an ordinary, non-saintly person who cares about racial justice (me). I’m Alison Wiley, 60, here in Portland Oregon. On December 16, 2020, I underwent kidney transplant surgery, having my left kidney removed. I did this so Gloria Litttle, a Black stranger-turned-friend, can receive the kidney she needs to live a full, long life rather than struggle with 7% kidney functioning and die long before her grandchildren grow to adulthood.
Why? My faith compels me to take action on systemic racism. My good intentions never helped anyone. African Americans die disproportionately from kidney disease, and from most everything else. I really hate that fact. My good physical health, unlike my intentions, can be helpful. I can share it with Gloria, via my spare kidney.
My kidney donation can be a metaphor for anyone’s big give, or give of any size. Which means my writing in this blog is about you, as well as myself.
Everyone has a big give inside them. It’s particular to your life circumstances, your gifts, the shape of your soul and maybe also the shape of your community. You might already be living yours out; I know some people who are doing that.
The challenges to giving big are universal. Some of mine are: fear of pain. Self-doubt and low self-esteem. Fear of failure (some kidneys get rejected by their new host). Selfishness; resistance to literally putting someone else first. Fear of being different (giving a kidney is weird, especially giving it to a non family member). Being different, which I’ve often been in my life, can mean being excluded, which hurts like hell. And scares the crap out of me. I’ve got all these challenges and more. They make me just like everyone else.
I’m accompanying Gloria, in my words of my friend Ed K. from EcoFaith Recovery, a group that shapes and inspires me. I’m walking at Gloria’s side.
Please accompany both of us by following our story and sharing it with others. Your doing that will help Gloria and me to have an impact beyond ourselves. Everyone has a big give inside them, and a whole lot of everyday gives, if we step into them.