Sunday, we changed our clocks again. It’s a pretty easy chore. Now comes the difficulty in becoming comfortable with the change to our bodies.
When told the reason for Daylight Saving Time (DST), an old chief said, “Only the government would believe you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom, and have a longer blanket.”
Old Ben Franklin, who like the Native Americans appreciated daylight hours, arose with the sunrise and retired after sunset. But while visiting in Paris, his circadian rhythm was disrupted. He advised his hosts to shoot cannons at sunrise to jolt people out of bed, optimizing the amount of hours they spent awake when it’s light out. It would be one way to cut down on candle use. The French ignored his advice as just another way this very creative eccentric tried to tell people what to do.
Ever since WWI, when the concept of DST was introduced in England, but adopted by Germany as a cost savings effort, people have debated the advantage and disadvantage of changing time twice a year. In 1915, Britain, three weeks after the Germans, followed suit; and a year later, so did the United States.
Arizona and Hawaii have refused to observe the change because residents of both states appreciate the cooler hours of dark after long hours of extreme heat. In Hawaii, it’s not a problem for the traveler because the island state lies in a much different time zone anyway. For the motorist entering Arizona, DST can create problems. However according to National Geographic Magazine, the daylight saving situation within Arizona is even more confusing than driving from New Mexico or Nevada. While most of the state ignores DST, the Navajo Nation, which covers part of northeastern Arizona, observes it. Meanwhile, the Hopi Nation, which is surrounded entirely by the Navajo Nation, does not. And within the Hopi Reservation sits a small slice of the Navajo Nation that does observe DST. If the visitor doesn’t know the state’s history about this biannual change plus the preferences of Native American nations, it’s like falling into a time warp zone.
While Hawaii and Arizona could opt out, Florida so far has been unsuccessful in its attempts to observe DST year round. Last year, its state legislators passed a Sunshine Protection Act giving the state year-round daylight saving time. Although Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill seeking approval from Congress, the national body has yet to act. According to state legislators, even though the act would have the state an hour ahead of the rest of the East Coast for half a year, it would benefit the tourist industry during peak tourist season for many beach cities.
And so as we spring forward this month, debate rages. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been one of those people who would like to see DST year round. If Florida finally receives permission for the radical change, I won’t move to the state. But I would hope other states like Georgia could see some advantage to more daylight time in the afternoons. I’ve long been an early riser in the dark.
But I respect the opinions of those who would like to see the practice discarded altogether and adhere to standard time. After all, there are enough problems caused with the multiple time zones. I think many of us just dislike the twice a year change. Every six months, it take some getting use to.
But I suppose even more important than the debate about standard versus daylight times, is how we use the hours we are awake. Dear old Ben Franklin whose mind must never have slowed down, even in his sleep, had little patience for those who wasted any commodity, especially time.
He advises, “Doest thou love life? Then do not squander Time; for that’s the Stuff Life is made of.” And he reminds us, “Lost time is never found again.”