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Richard Crowson Commentary

Richard Crowson: The Battle Within


Every time the Fourth of July rolls around I find myself engaged in a personal War of Independence. It’s not a revolt against another country or their king. The entity I go to battle against is my own 10-year-old self.

This little tyrant part of me begins to assert his abusive powers at the first sighting of a fireworks stand. The child king stomps his little royal foot emphatically and issues a decree: “I demand an explosion! Buy some fireworks! Blow something up!”

The adult me indignantly raises my flag of independence. I am not going to let this immature dictator rule me! But the child king within grabs a roman candle, aims it at my flag, lights it and grins manically as the spewing rocket’s red glare ignites my flag of rebellion.

I know the dangers of fireworks: grass fires, house fires, burned or missing digits, sleep-disturbing and eardrum-pounding bangs and ka-booms in the night. Plus the utter terror that such noises rain down upon our dogs, Hank and Lucy.

And just at the moment when it seems my adult self is winning this battle, my inner child king fires a volley at me that I can rarely defend against. “Don’t you remember those awesome Fourth of Julys when you were a boy? Remember all the fun you had setting off firecrackers and bottle rockets? You can re-live those happy, childhood days! Come on! Let’s blow some stuff up!”

It’s the old trick of mythologizing the past. We do it with our nation’s history and we do it with our personal history. It’s as American as apple pie, baseball and Fourth of July trips to the emergency room.

It’s hard to win the war of independence from our inner 10-year-olds.