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Speaking Out: Striking a seasonal balance

By  Jacob Stocking, Youth Speak News
  • September 22, 2021

Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV) tells us that “to every thing there is a season.” As the days grow shorter and the nights colder, it is time to reflect upon summer accomplishments and prepare for the months ahead. Doing so allows us to become more in tune with the seasonal movements God created for us, and by extension, more in tune with His wishes for our lives. 

Autumn has a variety of meanings to many different groups of people. For Canadian farmers, it is a time to harvest. For students, it is also a time to harvest. Rather than squash, beans or potatoes, they garner knowledge from the academic institutions that re-open their doors in September. 

Regardless of who you are or what you do, these months empower you to reap what has been sown. Unfortunately, the significance of seasonal patterns is quite lost today. As civilization continually drifts away from its agricultural beginnings, our patterns of work and rest become more imbalanced. 

Historically, summers were spent working the land and winters would be spent surviving on what that work had produced. Nowadays, work is done in the dark, dreary winter months and too many bright summer days are wasted on rest and relaxation. This pattern is stronger in countries like Canada, where summer and winter weather patterns are clearly defined.    

Of course, working non-stop during the summer is inefficient and unsustainable from a health perspective. A 2021 study conducted by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization found that global deaths from stroke and heart disease caused by overwork increased by 29 per cent between 2000 and 2016.

"A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up"

- Ecclesiastes 3:3

The problem is worsening. According to the same study, the number of individuals working long hours — more than 55 hours per week — currently stands at nine per cent worldwide and is steadily increasing.

A similar problem exists in the non-working population. For students in Ontario, summer break is the longest out of the three major breaks (spring, summer and winter). Not only is this timing imbalanced relative to the other holidays, but it also wastes the more productive summer months.

Given that both work-life and school-life balances are out of sync with the seasons, how can we to return to a more balanced society? To begin, we may look to the example of other countries. For example, Japanese schools begin teaching in April and have a shorter summer break between July and August.

The workplace issue is more complicated. If someone does not work in a seasonal industry, how can they align vacation days with the seasons? One solution is to reallocate vacations from summer to holidays such as Christmas. The same approach may be modified for use by students. Instead of working during the school year, they may consider getting a full time job during the summer. 

Such changes are undoubtedly difficult and controversial, but over the long run they will allow us to become closer to God’s creation and God Himself. Ecclesiastes 3:3 (KJV) says that there is “A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.” By returning to a seasonal balance in our workplaces and schools, we will find the right time for everything.

(Stocking, 18, is a first-year psychology student at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ont.)

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