(1) Our bodies are useless to us after we die. If we are cremated or hermetically sealed in a fortress-like coffin, we are cheating the system. We are part of the food chain. If we eat while we are alive, we have an obligation to peacefully rot away when we are dead, to return some nutrients to the soil, to become food for the worms that fertilize the grass that feeds the cows that feed our replacements on earth.
(2) But, much more important than becoming worm food, we should register to become organ donors. We don't need our body parts when we are through using them -- but other people do need them.
With more than 100,000 people in the USA waiting for the gift of life -- and thousands more waiting for life-enhancing tissue or cornea transplants -- you can make a difference that will outlive your body. This coming weekend is National Donor Sabbath. Observed on Friday through Sunday two weekends before Thanksgiving, Donor Sabbath consolidates donation efforts of many faith communities into a national effort. Please sign up to give away what you won't need, and please help to spread the word about donation and about Donor Sabbath.
(3) If you want to be a real hero, consider donating a surplus body part while you are still above ground. You don't need two kidneys, and maybe you could give up a piece of a lung, or some skin to someone who needs it. In 1994, my sister's husband Alan Alpert was 45 years old. He was hospitalized for nearly two months and went home with a "new" pancreas and kidney that came from donor bodies. That pancreas is doing fine, but sadly, the kidney has worn out. Next week, Alan will get yet another kidney. This one will come from a live donor, his son and my brave nephew, Gary Alpert. I am humbled and inspired by his courage and love. I was terrified to have a cataract removed, and have delayed having a piece of wire removed from a fingertip. I wonder if I'd have the guts to volunteer to have my chest cut open, even to save a life.
(4) Give blood. Your body will make more.
(5) Be kind to other life forms (but maybe not mosquitoes).