Right-handers=good; left-handers=evil

May 16th, 2017

Right-handers comprise 85-90% of human population. Many tools — table saws, scissors, manual can openers, for example — are nearly impossible for left handers to use properly.

Don’t believe me? All you right-handers out there: Pick up a pair of scissors with your left hand and try to make them work. Just try it.

Right and left, good and evil

The words right and left also have interesting linguistic implications. In Latin, the word sinister, from which we obviously get the English sinister, originally meant left. The Latin word for right is dexter, as in dexterous and skillful.

Many other languages have positive correlations for the concept of right and negative correlations for the concept of left.

I, of course, am profoundly left-handed. I cope with this dominant right-handed world by routinely bumping into things, frustrating people who have to share a computer with me because I immediately put the mouse on the left of the keyboard, and avoiding power tools and kitchen implements.

Not all is bad for left-handers. Four of the last six U.S. Presidents have been left-handed. Left-handed baseball players have advantages. My left-handedness helped when I was learning biblical Hebrew. Reading and writing right to left instead of left to right was a piece of cake.

We left-handers have an advantage with the typical QWERTY keyboard. That layout was designed to keep right-handers from typing too fast and locking up the keys because 56% of the letters typed are done by the left hand. From the beginning, it turned out the left-handers were faster and more accurate typists.

Take that, you righties! We lefthanders can win speed contests there!

Being in a minority position affects everything

Even so, being in this minority, one that affects almost everything I do every day, colors my view of the world. For me, it is not a friendly world mechanically speaking. Most workspaces have arrangements awkward for me. School desks and spiral notebooks still give me nightmares.

I have to engage in too much energy-draining mental gymnastics to smooth out this awkwardness.

Now, no one on the dominant side, that is, the right-handed designers of all those workspaces and tools, sets out intentionally to make life more complicated for us left-handers. They just don’t think about it at all.

With the vast majority of people being right-handed, it makes sense that most implements and spaces will cater to that dominance.

And that, the unthinking catering to the dominant, is what finally brings me to my point today.

Left-handers have made significant contributions to the world. Here are just a few whose left-handed lives have made indelible impressions: Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso, Julius Caesar, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Winston Churchill, Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein.

Perhaps the fact that the world didn’t work well for them helped hone their creative impulses. They were out of step. They didn’t do things normally.

The dominant world enriches itself endlessly when it makes room for the less-dominant to have a voice. Those on the margins: left-handed, minority, poor, mentally and physically challenged, non-cis-gendered — anything that is different from the dominant, mainstream culture — have voices that must be heard and embraced.

We impoverish ourselves politically, socially and spiritually with a stance that there is no room for the ones who see life and events and shapes and sounds and music and art differently than we do.

We impoverish ourselves when we insist that there is only one right way to see or think or believe or sing or worship.

We impoverish ourselves spiritually when we deny that the creative energies of God must be diminished to accommodate only the dominant world.

For all of you “dominants” out there (and all of us are in one way or another), keep your ears open to the different and the offbeat.

Often the unexpected and often awkward movements and uncomfortable thoughts of the “sinister” give voice to God saying, “Pay attention. The Kingdom of Heaven has just shown up. Don’t miss it.”

 Christy Thomas blogs at Patheos.

About the Author

Christy Thomas

Christy Thomas is a retired Elder in the United Methodist Church. She writes weekly for the Denton Record-Chronicle and read more…
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