Left Out


Today is National Left-handers Day. I know, you meant to give me a card.

When I began learning to write (actual making of letters not the making of books),  I was ambidextrous, switching from one hand to another. Had I been born a generation earlier, I would have been forced to become right handed. Fortunately I had a wise teacher who said, “Let her choose. She’ll decide which one works for her.”

I chose writing with my left hand, although I do the ambidextrous things from time to time. When I first started playing tennis I had no backhand – I just switched hands. If I’m painting a picture and working on the right side of the canvas, I may switch to painting with my right hand if I’m not doing detail work.

Neither my teacher nor my parents were afraid of my being lefthanded. That’s not always been the case. From a Wikipedia article on bias against left-handed people:

Western countries also attempt to convert left-handed children due to cultural, societal and religious biases. Schools tend to urge children to use their right hands, sometimes against the wishes of the child’s parents. In America until corporal punishment was outlawed in schools it was not uncommon for students to be physically punished for writing with their left hands:[25] “I was educated in the USA in Catholic school in the 60’s. My left hand was beaten until it was swollen, so I would use my right right [sic] hand” … “I had a teacher who would smack my left hand with a yardstick every time she caught me writing with my left hand” … “My fourth grade teacher […] would force me to use my right hand to perform all of my school work. If she caught me using my left hand, I was hit in the head with a dictionary. It turned out that she believed left handers were connected with Satan.”[37]

While I suspect that navigating the world is easier from a right-handed perspective (no pulling the left-handed desk out of the corner of the class, no ink smudges on your hand) I suspect these people were not acting out of a desire to protect their students from those challenges. They reacted strongly because left-handers were different. And differences tended to scare us.

They still do.

When you find yourself reacting strongly to someone, take a moment to ask yourself what is really fueling your ire. Is it because they are a threat to you? Or is it because they are different and thus feel like a threat to you?

One of the hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry is that he reached out to the people who were different, who were viewed with suspicion… the hookers, the IRS agents, women in general. He wasn’t afraid of them because he could see what was most important about them: they were a child of God, and so were his brother or sister.

What do you see?

Oh, and by the way, we left-handers may be a minority but we rule when it comes to modern presidents:

Of the seven most recent U.S. Presidents, four, including Barack Obama, have been left-handed, while a fifth is said to have been ambidextrous: Ronald Reagan, who was left-handed by birth,[36][37][38] became president after he defeated left-handed candidateGeorge H. W. Bush in the Republican primary election. Four years earlier, Reagan had lost the Republican presidential primary to incumbent left-handed President Gerald Ford. George H. W. Bush succeeded Reagan and later ran for re-election against left-handersBill Clinton[39] and Ross Perot.[38] Clinton’s second term opponents included Perot, and Bob Dole who had become left-handed when his right arm was paralyzed in combat 50 years earlier. Left-handed then-Senator Obama defeated left-handed Senator John McCain in his race for the presidency.[40]

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3 thoughts on “Left Out

  1. Thanks, Peggy.
    Just one thing. Based on the presidents and candidates you mentioned, are you worried that Republicanism may be in your future?

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