Shout it Loud: Leave Time Alone!
Here we are, not quite a month into Old Man Winter and already I’m dreading spring. Not the season, but the “spring forward” that will interrupt our lives the second weekend of March. Can’t they leave time alone?
I refer to Daylight Savings Time (DST), that awful practice of moving our clocks ahead one hour and then back again eight months later. It’s like a nightmarish version of Groundhog Day. One could laugh at that movie, but not the time change that inflicts sleep deprivation on millions.
I had fervent hopes that 2023 would mark the demise of this horrid practice. In the spring of 2022, I went into fits of euphoria over the U.S. Senate’s unanimous passage of the Sunshine Protection Act, which would have established year-round DST.
Alas, only late in the year did I realize the House of Representatives hadn’t followed suit, marking the bill’s demise.
This quote from Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) in the Nov. 5 issue of The Hill said it all: “I wouldn’t expect it to happen this time . . . My gut sense tells me that there are going to be a number of other things that happen, depending on which party dominates the election.”
An Insane Practice
In other words, the sanity-defying practice of changing time will continue until enough citizens send up a cry loud enough for leaders in our nation’s capital to hear: “Leave our clocks alone!”
That the culprits in this scenario were members of the House—supposedly the representatives who are closer to “we the people”—is tragic. Maybe they were distracted drawing up plans for more important issues. Which would be…?
There’s already a grassroots movement for continuous time. That is evidenced by the recent NPR story that chronicled how 19 states have passed legislation to make DST permanent—once Uncle Sam acts.
There is fervent opposition to the idea too, much of it from parents who remember the 1970s, when it was dark during pre-school hours. One teen in Florida, where I lived at the time, died when a motorist struck him while the victim was bicycling to school.
I understand such objections. There is a school bus stop across from our house, where we have seen students gathered in the dark, even during standard time. (Which may be a reason to not start school so early, but that’s a discussion for another day.)
To anyone who has weighed in on the topic in recent conversations, I have always replied: “I don’t care whether it’s daylight or standard time. Just pick one and keep it. Year-round.”
It’s bad enough in the spring, when moving the clock ahead makes me abhor early March. This year, I may go to bed around 9 p.m. the night before and hope the next few weeks won’t be quite as miserable.
But in early November I also found myself groggy and feeling run-down for more than a week after we “fell back.” The extra hour of sleep didn’t compensate for the interruption to our normal body cycles of daytime and dark.
Ironically, on a post-time-change trip to Oregon, I found people out there who were as unhappy about it as me.
Maybe I should go panhandle in front of the U.S. Capitol, begging for the hours of sleep we’ve all lost because our leaders can’t leave time alone.