It’s not right to be left out

Aug 03, 2017

The bell just rang and at the same time the good nun entered her classroom. When she did all 11 of us uniformed fifth graders immediately scrabbled from our wooden (with ink holder) desk and stood at strict attention. Then with deliberate steps this woman walked to the front of her large oak wooden desk. If a visitor was present this guest could see all the blue and browned eyes trailing her movements as this infallible sister crossed in front of her pupils.

After our unison and normal morning greeting; “Good morning Sister Maria!!” and with hands on our hearts we pledge allegiance to the flag. After this mediatory pledge, we quietly and uniformly sat back down, then folded our hands and silently waited for her next command.

But even though all heads were directed at the good nun, I knew a lot of us were thinking; “How many times today will Sister Maria use her ruler to strike the left-hand knuckles of poor Mary Ann?”

Of course, I could only guess that every time the ruler wacked Mary Ann’s left knuckles she was thinking. “I do hope when sister gets to heaven she learns that God is a lefty!”

Looking back from my current advantage I wonder why this all-knowing sister didn’t see the irony that she was not supporting our pledge allegiance; “… with liberty and justice for all” as she punished our peers who were “deviant” southpaws!

It wasn’t until I became a student at Portland State University (Oregon) that I learned it was the Catholic Church, which helped institutionalize the idea that left handers were “evil” people. According to the church’s history left handed humans were routinely accused of working with Lucifer and this designation was sufficient to identify these “wrong handed” woman (not men) as witches.

But it wasn’t only the churches’ indoctrination, which focused on left- handed individuals the influential 19th Century Criminologist Cesare Lambroso taught his students to be aware of left handers because a lefty was a sure indication of pathological savagery and having a criminal mind.

Then added to these views my own professional field of behavioral health did a lot of mental health damage too. Doctor Abram Blan, an eminent American psychoanalyst, asserted left-handers had an unconscious desire to be rigid in their thoughts, were stubborn in their behaviors, and were a rebellious lot; therefore these individuals needed long term psychotherapy.

Throughout the years when sisters used corporal punishment to “motivate” us to learn I cannot remember any of them ever telling us that any of the following historical women or men were left handed: Julius Cesare, the Catholic saint Joan of Arc, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Leonardo Da Vinci, the artist Michelangelo, Queen Victoria, Lewis Carroll, Marie Curie, Babe Ruth, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland and Betty Grable.

So why am I giving you this sad history of punishment toward this minority group?

Many southpaws and their family members know the answer since August 13 will be upon us soon. I can hear many of my “northpaws” peers saying; “So what is so great about August 13th?”

Thanks to the August 13, 1997 (yes 1997!) declaration by the Left Hander’s Day Club, August 13 is the day to raise our awareness regarding the plights of being a lefty in a world of righties.

the So in line with the August 13th objective, here is a handful of things for us to think about: thousands of years.

  • Men are more likely to be left-handed.
  • Left handed shakes are a sign of disrespect. This belief apparently came about during the Middle-Ages greeting where people used to use their left hand after using the toilet.
  • It has been noted our wedding rings are worn on our third finger of our left hands so this special piece of jewelry will fend off any evilness which a left-handed person might draw to themselves.
  • A left-handed compliment really is not a compliment but rather it is a put-down. Such as; “You’re an outstanding player for a southpaw

Darn right, it is right to set aside a day for us to think about lefties being seen it their right light.

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