The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

March 15, 2009

Thanks to PJSL for efforts

I cheerfully volunteered to help the Palestine Junior Service League assemble new playground equipment at Reagan Park. It was scheduled for some Saturday or other in the future, so it was easy to say yes. By the next day, I had forgotten all about it. Wednesday before the coming Saturday, I read about the upcoming event and remembered I had promised to help. Along about Thursday, I began to dread my commitment, and consoled myself by recalling I had only promised, I had not signed anything official or attended any meetings. I would not be missed. Friday, I tried to convince myself I had never really said I would actually go, I only agreed to ‘support’ the project. Such are the lengths to which a criminal mind will resort when the chips are down. Come Saturday morning, I was trying to think of somebody I could be mad at as an excuse to not go, but couldn’t muster up any victims in my brain. Grumbling, mumbling, stumbling around as I dressed in the morning darkness, I regretted my rash comments.

Internally debating the matter as I pulled on my socks, I had to ask myself: What possessed me to volunteer for something like this? Had I simply been caught up in the emotion of the moment? Was I just trying to ‘be seen of men” for the vanity of it? Was I truly interested in the project? Did I know anyone who was involved in it? What was there to gain from volunteering? What was in it for me? I came to the conclusion that the only legitimate reason to participate would be because there was nothing in it for me, no gain; no glory. If I could not give even a single day back to my community, what kind of person was I at heart? Indecision evaporated in a moment and I felt better. I kept my promise and showed up not because the effort was easy, but because it was not; not for my own gain but for others. I observed many others in attendance who quietly went about their work with diligence and determination and realized I was seeing the best of my fellow man, and woman, in action.

At the end of the day, worn out, tired, dirty, sunburned; standing back and looking at what we accomplished as a community, I can safely say this was one of the best days of my life and I am a better person for it. What I think needs saying the most is this: Hats off to the PJSL for their great effort and sacrifice. The successful planning and execution of this project will be an example for all who follow. Few can ever hope to equal the level of commitment and organization shown by PJSL on that Saturday and the weeks of labor leading up to it. Theirs was the real effort and real sacrifice and it is they who deserve praise. My small contribution was simply that, and I thank the members of the Palestine Junior Service League for allowing me to help.

Michael Thomason