Daylight Savings Time always seemed to me to be a good idea.
As a child, it meant one more hour of playtime outdoors. As a parent, it meant my children had that extra hour, and I had extra time to prepare dinner.
And I swallowed the official justifications for it: More time for farmers in the fields, bigger savings on electricity, fewer road accidents at dusk....
Europeans caught on to the idea later, and although they, too, fiddle with the clock every year, there is much less agreement and appreciation for the concept. Educators claim that the time shift disturbs students' intellectual rhythm. Employers say the working environment is deranged. People involved with transportation and tourism hate the confusion it causes in their schedules.
And here in America, there are still some analysts who say the actual savings to the economy are negligible or negative. Changing timetables and resetting computers are just a small part of the twice-yearly adjustment that is estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
This year, it was decided (by whom?, and when?) to start Daylight Savings Time three weeks earlier than scheduled -- two full weeks before Europe begins. (Had the original date been kept, the U.S. would have lagged one week after Europe.) Why are we imposing this on the nation, and why are we out of sync with our trans-Atlantic neighbors?
Now, instead of two annual adjustments to be made in the Western hemisphere, there will be four!
Let me take this a giant step further: Why are we Americans tinkering so outrageously with nature? Why are we taking a reasonably good idea and stretching it to absurd extremes? This is true not only concerning DST, but new technologies such as genetic engineering, cloning, cryogenics, and artificial insemination. Unleashing GE crops into the world, replicating farm animals for fun and profit, freezing corpses for future retrieval, and setting up donor sperm banks for babies-on-demand are just some of the ways we are carelessly and dangerously manipulating nature, with no regard for the outcomes or the ethical questions involved.
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, we in the West have seen ourselves as being engaged in a fight against nature, as if we are living in a hostile world that will devour us if we don't defend and assert ourselves. With this attitude, nature will fight back -- and indeed, it is.
I wonder if it's too late to change our direction, to start living in accord and in harmony with the natural world, to be very clear what is real and what is virtual. In a word -- to turn back the clock!