The Western legacy of time-keeping synchronizes the hour, minute and second with the actions of life. While many Americans regard measured time as a fact of nature, aspiring to live life "as regular as clockwork" dates back only to the 1300s.
According to the renowned American social philosopher Lewis Mumford, the invention of the clock arose out of a desire for order and discipline of the 14th-century monastery. In the 7th century, Pope Sabinianus decreed the canonical hours requiring that monastery bells be rung seven times evenly dividing each day.
Not before the mid-1300s were hours commonly divided into 60 minutes and minutes into 60 seconds. Yet the mechanical concept of dividing and conquering time became the Western reference for action and thought. Time gradually was thought of as a collection of hours, minutes and seconds rather than an unmeasured sequence of experiences. Suddenly time could be wasted, forever lost or saved -- not unlike people's souls.
By the late 1500s, when the Julian calendar had slipped out of sync because of the computation of leap year, Pope Gregory XIII attempted to recalibrate it by cutting out 10 days. The public rioted, shouting, "Give us back our 10 days."
The United States first instituted Standard Time in 1883 to synchronize the hands of clocks in large geographical regions, causing some protest.
Prior to that, the nation harbored a bizarre maze of more than 56 independent and irregular time zones. Every town and city determined its own time by observing the location of the sun at noon. Washington, for instance, was ahead of New York by nearly 12 minutes, ahead of Boston by 24, but behind Atlanta by 30.
When this country adopted daylight savings time in 1966, there was another national fuss. Today, Arizona and the northwest corner of Indiana are the only locations in the continental United States not complying with daylight savings time.