ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

SAVING DAYLIGHT . . . IN SPITE OF OURSELVES

As I understand it, the whole idea behind Daylight Savings Time is taking daylight from one part of the day (morning) and giving it to another part of the day (evening).

As usual, I don’t get it.

The way I see it, daylight belongs in the morning.  In fact, mornings are all about daylight.  When you think about morning you think about eggs, bacon and daylight – not necessarily in that order.  A morning without daylight is . . . well . . . night.

Evening, on the other hand, is all about diminishing daylight. That’s the very definition of evening: diminishing daylight.  When you take a walk in the evening you don’t think you’re going to need shades and sunscreen.  Evening is cool and dim.  You know – like some teenagers.

So I don’t really understand the reason for taking daylight from where it belongs and inserting it where it doesn’t.  It just seems sort of weird and unnatural – like we’re trying to control the rising and setting of the sun, or Britney Spears’ hair.

And has anybody considered the impact of all this extra afternoon sunlight on global warming?  Or is that just too . . . you know . . . inconvenient to consider?

According to my crack research staff, Congress originally established daylight savings time in the United States back in 1918, but it was repealed a year later when it proved to be almost as unpopular as Kaiser Wilhelm.  Will Rogers said that the only thing about which Congress could agree in 1919 was that they had messed up in 1918.  Most folks seemed to agree with journalist Robertson Davies, who wrote that daylight savings time was crafted by “the bony, blue-fingered hand of Puritanism, eager to push people into bed earlier, and get them up earlier, to make them healthy, wealthy and wise in spite of themselves.”

But evidently the pro-daylight savings time lobby is strong and persistent. Within 50 years we again had federally mandated daylight savings time, although nobody is exactly sure why.  A public opinion survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that people like daylight savings time because they like the long summer evenings it provides.  Personally, I think the best part of summer evenings is the part where it gets dark, and it would be great with me if we got there an hour sooner.  But then, nobody surveyed me.

This year daylight savings time is springing forward several weeks earlier than usual.  This is because Congress decided we could save energy by starting daylight savings time in March, although they did allow that we could return to the old daylight savings timetable if it turns out we don’t really save much energy by doing this.  In other words, they don’t really know if this is going to work.  They’re just shooting in the dark.  So to speak.

All of which means we’re going to have to be extra vigilant with our digital clocks this year.  Not only are we going to have to move them forward an hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 11, but we are also going to have to be aware that many of our computer clocks and cell phone clocks are already programmed to move forward on the first Sunday in April – the old daylight savings time.  So you need to keep a regular old non-computerized clock or watch handy, just in case your computer clock freaks out.  And if that sounds like Y2K revisited, so be it.

Meanwhile, we’re going to have this extra hour on our hands every evening for the next eight months.  Consider it a gift of time, whether you want it or not.  Use it wisely. Spend it well.  That late evening sunlight is great for working in gardens, playing catch with the kids or walking around the block and chatting with neighbors.  You’ll find that such pastimes can be a pleasant way to end the day.  And who knows?  They just might make you healthy, wealthy and wise.

In spite of yourself.

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— © Joseph Walker

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