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COLUMN: Turning back the clocks, not the calendar

Returning the values and customs of past years would make many uncomfortable
Courtesy photo

This weekend, it’s time once again to set clocks back one hour as most of Canada comes off daylight saving time.

Changing the clocks isn’t too bad, although it can get annoying if one has a lot of clocks to reset. It would be a different matter if this year’s time change also involved setting the calendar to an earlier year.

I’ve been thinking about what it would mean to change the calendar after hearing some people talking nostalgically about the better days they remember in bygone years. Some believe the music of the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s is superior to anything produced today. Others have fond memories of their high school and university days. And some are just angry about current events.

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It is easy to find people talking about “getting back to normal” as they recall past days. However, the “normal” of an earlier era would not necessarily fly today.

Swapping out this year’s calendar for that of an earlier year wouldn’t take too much effort. The years 1910, 1955, 1977, 1983 and others have the same date patterns as 2022. In each of those years, New Year’s Day fell on a Saturday, Valentine’s Day was on a Monday and July 1 was on a Friday.

Still, today is not yesterday. Returning the values and customs of past years would make many uncomfortable.

A little more than a century ago, women in Canada did not have the right to vote. A move back to the world of 1910 would be a return to such a time. At the time, women were not considered “persons” under the law. When more than half the population is not considered “persons,” something is horribly wrong.

Women were granted the right to vote in 1918, but there were still some limitations even after this time. In addition, gender roles were much more firmly entrenched in the past than today. This has been changing over the years.

If the calendar were set back to 1955, it would be a time when schools in British Columbia had a compulsory Bible reading and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the start of the school day.

Today, more than one-third of Canadians are non-religious. In British Columbia, that figure rises to more than 52 per cent of the population, and in the Yukon, it is around 60 per cent, according to figures from the 2021 census. Of those who adhere to a religious faith, that faith is not necessarily Christianity.

If the calendar were reset to 1977 or 1983, it would be a return to a time when the treatment of those who are LGBTQ2S+ was far harsher than today. In addition to some extremely offensive homophobic slurs, there was also a level of hate towards a segment of our population. Suggesting someone might be gay or lesbian could cast suspicions on the person’s character.

Today there are efforts to combat this bigotry and to show support towards people, especially youths, who are LGBTQ2S+. Sadly, some of these efforts are still being met with hostility.

Our world today is far from perfect and there is still work to do in order to ensure all are respected.

In the coming years — 2033 or 2050 for example — will people see our world today as a time when efforts were made to combat bigotry and treat others with dignity? Or will the world of 2022 be seen as a primitive time that should remain in the past?

Our legacy will depend on what we do here and now.

And with that, I’ll enjoy these last few days before setting the clock back an hour. But I won’t replace the calendar with that of an earlier year.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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