Long Story Short: Morning Person’s Revenge

Give Benjamin Franklin his due. He did many great things.

But, his famous saying “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” has offended me since I was a child.

First of all, I knew it wasn’t true. I went to grade school two blocks from a poultry processing plant. Most of the workers arrived by 5 a.m. Few, if any, were wealthy, and there were plenty or reasons to believe an equally low percentage to be wise or healthy.

Let’s face it. The world is divided into two distinct camps: morning people and night people.

Sadly for those of us who love the nighttime, the morning people have always had more influence. Most of the modern world operates on their clock. Dear ol’ Benny Franklin, with all of his morning ways, played a role in coming up with the ultimate morning person’s revenge: daylight-saving time.

While he did not come up with the actual idea of switching clocks back, he did plant the seed way back in 1784 when, as the U.S. envoy to France, he anonymously published a letter mocking the Parisians for not making better use of daylight.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind morning people. My disdain is reserved for the ones like Mr. Franklin with their if-I’m-up-you-should-be-too attitude.

Seldom do they have respect or understanding of the magic and occasional genius that happens during late-night hours.

More than 100 years after dear Benny suggested everyone should rise with him, an English morning-do-gooder named William Willett went for an early morning ride. He was dismayed by the number of his neighbors who weren’t up to appreciate the morning sun.

He also hated his late afternoon game of golf getting cut short by dusk. So, in 1907, Willett proposed the ingenious idea of moving the clock up an hour during summer. To this day, the English call it Summer Time. Somehow, people across the globe went along with Willett’s crazy notion.

The U.S. adopted daylight-saving time in 1918.

There have been a slew of recent studies, which offer proof that DST doesn’t save any energy or prevent accidents but, just like sheep, every year we move our clocks up in the spring and back in the fall.

There’s another saying by another great American named Shel Silverstein: “If you’re an early bird, be an early early bird. If you’re a worm, sleep late.”

Jan Risher can be reached at jan@janrisher.com.

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