Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sunday Laws: a call to restore them

Taking Back Sundays | June 5, 2014

Do you remember the languid days of Sundays past? Back then it was illegal to open anything but a convenience store. If you needed fuel in Western Australia there was a skeleton roster of petrol stations scattered across the city, often too far to make it on whatever fumes were left in your tank.

Time slowed down. Everyone slept in. No one had anywhere to go. No work. Nothing to see or do. Families were forced to look at each other, to talk, to interact. Sometimes you'd all jump in the car and just drive without a specific destination, maybe to a dam or a remote beach.

When I look back now, I realise how many precious memories were created on these Sundays. Both parents were around, the street was filled with kids hitting homemade ramps in the middle of the street (no traffic!) and we'd always take lunch served in little wicker baskets around the dining table.

And then trading hours began to extend, first late-night shopping on Thursdays, then Saturday afternoons before, finally, swallowing the Christian sabbath. Now you can disappear into the void of department stores on a Sunday afternoon or breeze into any of the hundreds of hair salons, butcheries, bakeries, restaurants or cafes.

I'd forgotten about those lost Sundays until I apent a week in Tel Aviv. From Friday evening to dusk on Saturday, you couldn't move for families strolling along the beachfront promenades. Is the Jewish nation crushed by its strict observance of shabbat? Does business shriek at its hillbilly trading laws?

It isn't, it doesn't, and the nation thrives.

Taking back Sundays wouldn't be the end of the world. It might even be found to be something rather pleasant.