Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.

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New Paint

By Milt Abel | September 11, 2011

| September 11, 2011

New Paint

I attended another Friday night football game, this one just two days before the ten-year anniversary of the 9/11/01 attacks on the U.S. Because of the closeness to that anniversary, before the national anthem was sung, the stadium announcer requested ‘a moment of silence in honor of the victims’. The game was held in Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field, where the city’s  former triple A team played and the current home of Portland’s professional soccer team. A large, well-lit stadium, oversized really, for a couple high school teams to go at it. But is was a beautiful summer night, and my son plays fullback.

During the moment of silence I was tempted to make some noise. I am no fan of all the reverence and sanctity poured over that tragic event. The observed remembrances, thick on this Sunday the actual ten year anniversary, are not unlike the effects of alcohol; it causes the maudlin to be more maudlin, the angry to be more angry. I think we all would have been better served if the announcer has a requested ‘a moment of silence to think how we can be kinder to one another.’ But that doesn’t sell beer or tee shirts, doesn’t get people worked up to make irrational decisions like flying planes into buildings or invading other countries and ending up killing people just as innocent as those in the Twin Towers.

The alcohol analogy goes further: maybe this all could have been avoided if a few people woke up in the morning, a day over a decade ago, and said to themselves, “Today I’m not going to fly any planes into any buildings.” One day at a time.

There’s a favorite parable I like to tell about hanging on to things; how appropriate or inappropriate that practice might be: Two monks are walking through a forest and come to a rain-swollen river. A old woman needs help crossing and asks to be carried. The young monk declines saying, “We are forbidden to touch women.” The older monk, the teacher, says, “Hop on,” and carries her across. The two monks continue in silence the rest of the day until the young monk can’t stand it anymore and asks, “How could you touch that woman when it is strictly forbidden?’ The old monk says, “I put the woman down on the other side of the river. You are still carrying her.”

Ten years ago, when I first heard the news of the 9/11 attacks is was over the car radio. It was so extraordinary that I thought it was a hoax, like the War of the Worlds broadcast of 1938. I was going to the local hardware store to get painting supplies. My wife, a good friend, and myself spent that day painting our kitchen with the TV on and listened to unfolding and tragic consequences throughout the day. That was ten years ago. It’s time for new paint.

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