Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor. Proverbs 3.16
O that his left hand were under my head,
and that his right hand embraced me! Song of Songs 2.6
But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Matthew 6.3
Word of Hope
Today is Left Handers Day, and the passages above reflect some of the (kinder) dealing with the left hand. Left handers may be one of the first groups of people generally discriminated against in human history. One study I read says that as humans learned to cooperate, they wanted everyone to be alike (sound familiar?) and right handedness seemed to dominate over time.
Left handers have always been treated with some suspicion. After all the Latin word for left is sinister whereas the Latin word for right derives from rectus as in correct or proper. We speak of people’s “rights” and that word has the same origins as “right” as in correct and as in opposite of left (actually meaning outwardly worn like putting your best face forward).
We tend not to think about this if we are right handed. Much like white privileged folks often fail to realize how their privilege gives them advantage. Our world is right hand centric. Scissors, doors, car shifters, and many things are geared toward right handed use. Even our European writing system is right hand friendlier. Left handed people die younger from accidents and are more prone to suicide.
This is changing. Left hand scissors and the tools are being made. Oreo is putting out a bag of cookies for today that open from the right to the left – easier to grab with the left hand. (And Oreo is sending a free bag to everyone in Left Hand, West Virginia because it’s the right thing to do).
But science tells us that the left side of the brain is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain; the creative side. I guess this means that left handed people are in their right mind.
But in all seriousness a lot of people are left handed. According to USA today, Aristotle, Michelangelo, Picasso, Marie Curie, Alan Turing, Barak Obama, Mozart, Sting, Robert Plant, Lady Gaga, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Tina Fey, and Dan Ackroyd are all lefties. And there are many, many more.
I bring all of this up as a devotion to hopefully cause all of us (myself included) to pause and think about those subtle things that make life easier for some and not for others. We all know about the “big” things anti-LGBTQ prejudice, racial bigotry, religious hatred. How often do we stop to think about the layout of our remotes, the shape of our scissors, the placement of car controls unless we are left handed? By the way, did you know that the modern computer/typewriter keyboard layout was designed to slow people down while typing? When typewriters were first invented they would jam if people typed too quickly. So the two most used letters in the English language, the ‘E’ and the ’S’ were placed under the ring finger of the left hand to slow the typist. That is if the typist is right handed.
Great Creator, you made all people, left and right handed, light, dark and in-between, left brained and right brained, tall and short. And you love them all equally regardless. Bring to our hearts that same love that you have for all your children; our neighbors, our friends, our enemies, those like ourselves and those unlike.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare