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The freedom-lover’s argument for keeping your clocks exactly as they are right now

Most everyone will “fall back” to standard time this weekend. Do not comply

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A clock draped in bunting keeps time in the Federal Hall National Memorial in Manhattan.

A clock draped in bunting keeps time in the Federal Hall National Memorial in Manhattan, where George Washington was inaugurated.

Wikimedia Commons

Most everyone will set their clocks to “fall back” this weekend because Congress has again ignored the will of the people and refused to do away with the circadian rhythm-destroying, family-disrupting madness that happens twice a year.

But here’s what no one is telling you about the time change. You, as a free American, have a choice in the matter. When it’s time to change your clocks on Sunday, do not comply. It’s the easiest act of civil disobedience there is.

No stern bureaucrat will show up Monday to issue a citation or put you in stocks if you don’t cooperate. This is the land of the free, and while Ecclesiastes says there’s a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to laugh, it doesn’t say there’s a time to change our clocks and watches.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to stop the time change on a large scale without congressional approval. Our cellphones, sheep that they are, will dutifully sync up with Official Government Time without asking our permission. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act, as Jay Evensen writes, seems destined to perpetually die in committee.

But in this country, there is proud precedence for revolt when it comes to faceless bureaucrats telling us what time it is.

Consider the town of Block Island, Rhode Island, which during the energy crisis in 1973, decided to go on daylight saving time all by itself to conserve energy. As David Prerau wrote in “Seize the Daylight,” a history of the time-change wars, “The patriotic move put the residents of the tiny island one hour ahead of everyone else in America. Yet because of the island’s remote offshore position and slow-paced lifestyle, the change had little effect on everyone’s lives.”

But other, more populated areas have also stood athwart their timepieces yelling stop — over both daylight saving time and standard time.

Prerau writes, for example, that Detroit was a sort of “conscientious objector” to a national time change in 1915 because the city was already on year-round daylight saving time. City lawmakers pulled out of the national change with an ordinance passed hours before the change took effect.

To be sure, the sporadic opt-ins/opt-outs that have occurred — not just in the U.S., but around the world — have caused headaches and even tragedies. A deadly train crash occurred in Paris in 1925 when one train was on standard time and the other on daylight saving time, reaching its destination an hour before it was expected.

And no matter how you feel about the death penalty, the value of a single, precious hour of life was highlighted in 1922 when two men on death row in New York filed last-ditch appeals when they realized the time change was going to shorten their time on Earth by an additional hour. (They lost the appeals.)

For most of us, however, the time change is simply a biannual disruption from which it takes weeks to recover. Children don’t know we’re supposed to get an extra hour of sleep; they’ll be up at the usual time tomorrow, at least according to the sun and their biological clocks. Dogs that needed to be walked at 7 a.m. on Saturday will need walking at 6 a.m. Monday.

Which is why it makes sense to ignore the time change, and to keep going to bed and getting up at the same time you usually do. This means, of course, that according to your cellphone, you’ll be going to bed and getting up an hour earlier each day. For example, if you previously arose at 7 a.m. and retired at 11 p.m., you’ll be getting up at 6 and going to bed at 10 from now until March 13 (the date of the spring time change in 2022). You’ll still have to report to school, work, church and Jazz games when your friends and colleagues do, which requires some nimbleness of thought. But for people who adhere to a rigid sleep schedule (a best practice for good health), it can be worth it.

Despite the challenges, I’ve stayed on daylight saving time for 3 years now, by waging my own small standard-time strike. I love having an “extra” hour to myself every morning and don’t mind going to bed an hour “early,” except when NFL games are tied in the fourth quarter.

The arbitrary changing of clocks is like the weather: Everybody complains about it, but no one does anything about it. This is one way to do something about it. Despite the vast powers of the federal government, it cannot tell us what time to get up and what time to go to bed. But please keep this quiet, between you and me. Let’s not give Washington any ideas.