Time is a construct. To be fair though, many aspects of society are: money, etiquette, marriage, you name it.
Don’t get me wrong, I like all of these things. I am glad to have a standardized trade and barter system. Uncle Tony feels compelled to quit farting at the dinner table? Great! And don’t even get me started on how much I love Say Yes to the Dress.
The fact that these are constructs in no way devalues them. Rather, it helps us to understand these facets of everyday life and, even more meaningfully, ourselves.
The concept of time is an especially interesting one.
Earth rotates around the sun once every 365 days. 24 hours to each day, 60 minutes to every hour, and 60 seconds to each minute.
What a beautiful, uncomplicated system with which to record our lives. How ingenious for humankind to standardize itself, to coordinate with each the celestial bodies and, closer to home, one another. Without the traditional concept of time, life as we know it would be in disarray.
How else would we know so precisely when to sleep, eat, and meet?
Time is, without a doubt, the perfect tool.
However, since time (or rather, the measurements by which we conceptualize time) is a construct, I tend to be somewhat baffled by the phenomena of “New Years”. Is it not both fascinating and strange that society celebrates so collectively something which we ourselves created?
This is not to say that this detracts meaning from the occasion.
Rituals are, after all, a cornerstone of human life.
Celebrations like these connect and unite us in the way that ordinary life fails to do. They give us a collective sense of purpose and direction. Strange though it may be, New Years should not be scoffed at – it should be celebrated.
Thus, my challenge in 2018 is to the New Years nay-sayers.
I know the holiday is an odd one. I feel pretty weird about it, myself.
But the fact of the matter is that people thrive with a sense of occasion and long for new beginnings.
So let the resolutions pour in, the gym fill to max capacity, and everyone dream big. Society created the tools to measure time.
Give everyone the fair chance to fill it for themselves.
2B International Development and Political Science
Photo above taken by Ju Hyun Kim