Thieves of Time
People don’t get enough light in their lives. They really become distressed when governments take sunlight away from them – rather like officials increasing the tax on air.
With daylight savings approaching this weekend, the politics of daylight are heating up.
The most recent example of public unhappiness is Scotland. Attempts to make daylight savings consistent throughout the three centuries old “United Kingdom” have been met by strenuous refusals throughout the Highlands. Watching the sun dip into the horizon at 3 PM is bad enough, but having bureaucrats in London tell honest Scotsmen that they won’t get to see the sun until 10 AM is downright damnable – it’s almost worth fighting the battle of Culloden all over again.
And that battle of 1746 was followed six years later, on September 3, 1752, by riots throughout the British Isles. September 3rd was also September 14th. People fought the constables and the state, demanding back the 11 days taken from their lives by the new Julian calendar.
Governments have been stealing time from their citizens for centuries.
Time and Light
Time rules life. Inner time is set by light.
Body clocks change everything we do. They reset all our systems; synchronize them; shift our performance measures; make it all work. Among other things they
Then there’s the fact that the Earth is filled with very different people – larks and owls, morning and night people. With so much of a northern population prone to seasonal depression, light in the day is a personal issue for many.
So no matter where the time-light zones are drawn, someone will be uncomfortable – and in the more extreme northern and southern regions of the world, lots of people will feel very uncomfortable.
And then there’s the issue of money.
The politics of daylight can get bizarre – witness Iran.
Some years ago President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared daylight savings unIslamic.
The result – chaos. No one knew the right time. Planes did not know when to leave. Trade stalled. Traffic choked the streets.
And the economists in the bureaucracy pointed out that getting rid of daylight savings would cost the country $3 billion a year.
The unduly elected leader of the nation admitted his error. Daylight savings would return – except for schoolchildren. The example of schoolkids, like those in Scotland, waiting for the school bus in the dismal dark, was the reason Ahmadinejad declared daylight savings would remain off limits for students.
The result – traffic choking the streets. Economic chaos as mothers left work an hour early to pick up their kids.
Daylight savings returned to the Islamic Republic.
What To Do
Light is too important to not cause political and economic fights. Yet ministries throughout the world have reluctantly come to the same conclusion – daylight savings saves money. It makes transport and communication easier. Hard as the shift is for many, the economic and social results outweigh the difficulties of the minority.
So what can you do when the clock springs forward this weekend?
Many media reports are telling people to adjust gradually – especially with schoolchildren. Go to bed and get up ten minutes earlier for a week. That way, when 6 A.M. becomes 7 A.M., you’ll be prepared.
Easier said than done.
Light resets clocks. Exercise helps. Sunlight and exercise should be used to let people adjust when the change happens.
For most of us, when daylight savings hits on Sunday, we will feel the 24 hour day become 23 hours long. So remember this:
Light in the morning makes your inner biological day shorter; light in the evening or night (until very late that is) makes your inner day longer.
So this weekend, when time springs forward, you will have a shorter day. Get light and physical activity Sunday morning, particularly for the next couple of days – as soon as you can after dawn.
Daylight savings is just like jet lag. Using timed light and activity and keeping to a regular schedule, almost everyone can adjust.
And for those who can’t stand the idea of different times of day for rising and sleeping, there is the example of China. Everywhere in the People’s Republic, from Tibet to Manchuria to Hainan, runs on Beijing time.
Whether one likes it or not, time really does rule.
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